Posts by Dictionary.com

  1. How Do You Change Passive Voice Into Active Voice?

    In active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb. In passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb. If you feel like you need a little more than that, keep reading. What is passive voice? The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that sentence is about. The passive voice is when an action happens to the subject. In …

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    What’s It Called When You Misinterpret Lyrics?

    What is a mondegreen? Have you ever heard someone sing the wrong lyrics to a song? Maybe a child gave the nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” a new meaning by replacing the line “life is but a dream” with “life’s a butter dream.” Or maybe you’ve unironically belted out “Excuse me while I kiss this guy,” instead of Jimi Hendrix’s intended lyrics, “Excuse me …

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    How Did April 1 Become “April Fools’ Day”?

    For pranksters and mischievous older siblings all around the world, April Fools’ Day, or All Fools’ Day, is as eagerly anticipated as Christmas. What other holiday encourages you to think up elaborate hoaxes, swap your spouse’s keys, or trick your friend into thinking their car got towed? But how did this odd, prank-centric holiday come to be celebrated in the first place, and why is …

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    Why Is The Word “Root” In “Root Beer”?

    Is root beer the world’s most oddly named carbonated beverage … we don’t know, that award might go to 7-up, but we’re going to explore the naming of this soft drink regardless. What, after all, is the root in root beer? The roots of root in root beer The ingredient in root beer that primarily gives the beverage its distinctive flavor is sassafras, which is “the root …

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    Is An “Equinox” The Same As A “Solstice”?

    For centuries, humans have used different markers to note the changing seasons. The harvest moon has popularly been used to announce the fall, just as Groundhog Day tells us whether or not spring is on schedule. But, seasonal change owes much more to the equinox and the solstice than to groundhogs. What is an equinox? First, because we’re a dictionary and all, we’ll look at …

  6. The Story Behind Saint Patrick’s Name

    March 17th marks the annual celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, or Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish. The holiday honors its fifth-century namesake, Saint Patrick, Ireland’s shamrock-loving patron saint, who died on this date in 461 A.D. These days, the holiday is observed all over the world to celebrate Irish cultural heritage, which is ironic considering Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. Nor was Patrick his real name. …

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    Why Do We Say “Beware The Ides Of March”?

    The Ides of March, better known as March 15th, marks an inauspicious anniversary associated with treachery and ill fortune. But, how did a day that was once celebrated by the Romans become so heavily steeped in superstition? Where did the phrase Ides of March come from? First, let’s talk calendars. Unlike today, the ancient Romans didn’t number their calendar days chronologically from the first of the …

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    Where Did The Word”Pi” Come From?

      Where is the word pi from? Pi is the Latin name of the sixteenth Greek letter, π. (Mathematic notation borrows from a multitude of alphabets and typefaces.) The first recorded use of π as a mathematical symbol comes from the Welsh mathematician William Jones in a 1706 work called Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos, in which he abbreviated the Greek περιϕέρεια, (meaning “circumference,” or “periphery”) to its first letter: π. What does pi mean in mathematics? …

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    From Suffrage To Sisterhood: What Does Feminism Actually Mean?

    Falling annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates the progress women have made over the last century, and the inspiring women who helped make that progress happen. From the suffragist movement of the 1800s to the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, women have used the power of language and oration to inspire countless people. Early inspiration: the Enlightenment Early feminism was heavily influenced by …

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    “Compliment” vs. “Complement”: How To Pick The Right Word

    Compliment and complement are commonly confused terms because they’re pronounced alike and originally shared some meanings. But over time, they’ve become separate words with entirely different definitions. What does complement mean? Complement with an E is the older of the two terms. Its noun sense has been around in English since the 1300s. The term derives from the Latin complēmentum, meaning “something that completes.” So, that means if …

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