Mixed-up Meanings

  1. “Inauguration” vs. “Swearing In”: What’s The Difference?

    Every four years, the presidential inauguration captures the attention of people in the United States. Some tune in to the televised event for the eye-catching ceremony, crowds, and parties. Others are most looking forward to the swearing-in. Yet regardless of what people tune in for, the whole swearing in part is sometimes confused with the inauguration itself. Which makes you wonder: what is the inauguration and …

  2. “Assent” vs. “Ascent”: What’s The Difference?

    Homophones: love them or hate them, they’re everywhere. These two are a great example. They may sound the same, but their meanings couldn’t be any more different. Assent is a word that indicates agreement or approval. Ascent refers to an upward movement. Let’s take a closer look. What does assent mean? As a verb, assent means to agree or to give in. When used as …

  3. “Warranty” vs. “Guarantee”: What’s The Difference?

    When it comes to the big purchases in life, it’s important to master the fine print and understand words like loan, credit, interest, and … maybe also yikes and help (if that new refrigerator gives you a bit of sticker shock). There’s also another pair of words that comes in handy: warranty and guarantee. Because a major purchase is usually going to involve these two terms, you …

  4. “Dementia” vs. “Alzheimer’s”: What’s The Difference?

    You’ve likely heard of them before. Their most distinctive feature is a severe and progressive decline in memory, reasoning, and other primary cognitive abilities. Their diagnoses get easily mistaken for one another, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Are dementia and Alzheimer’s the same thing? The short answer is no, they are not. Although tightly intertwined, they are remarkably different. How so? Well, this may come as …

  5. “Accept” vs. “Except”: What’s The Difference?

    Do I accept an invitation or except it? If someone is left off of an invitation list, has she been excepted or accepted? What’s the difference between these two terms, and how can we keep them straight? What does accept mean? Accept is a verb, and it means, most broadly, “to take or receive (something offered) or receive with approval or favor,” as in I accept this trophy. What does except mean? Except …

  6. “Placebo” vs. “Nocebo”: The Good And The Bad

    Surely, you’ve heard of placebo before. Wait, no … not that Placebo … not the late ’90s British band. We mean the dummy drug that, despite not having any pharmacological property, can still make you feel better—pretty much like the rock band, right? Well, you might not know that placebo has an evil twin. Its name is nocebo, and it’s the bad guy. At first …

  7. “Pagan” vs. “Wicca”: What Is The Difference?

    In the 1950s, a new spiritual and nature-focused religion started to gain steam. It was deemed wicca, and its followers called wiccans. For people on the outside looking in, there was the possibility for some confusion on what, exactly, wiccans practiced—including how it related to paganism. Which draws the question: are you pagan if you’re wicca? Someone who is wiccan follows “a nature-oriented religion having …

  8. “Monolith” vs. “Megalith”: What’s The Difference?

    Recently, journalists and social media users were fascinated by large hunks of metal referred to as monoliths suddenly appearing and just as suddenly disappearing around the world. Yet another monolith has appeared on a beach in England https://t.co/1kB7Pz5Bgq pic.twitter.com/huUwolhYCF — Mashable (@mashable) December 11, 2020 While it seems that these mysterious objects may just be part of some publicity stunt or marketing scheme, they’ve inspired …

  9. “That” vs. “Which”: When Do You Use Each?

    To understand when to use that and when to use which, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. In formal American English, that is used in restrictive clauses, and which is used in nonrestrictive clauses. Not sure what that means? Let’s find out! How do you use that? A restrictive clause contains information that limits the meaning of a noun …

  10. “Crow” vs. “Raven”: Do You Know The Difference?

    When the leaves change and we head into fall, you’ll notice some common pieces of autumnal decor that pop up across houses: pumpkins, bales of hay, and scarecrows to keep away ominous black birds. But are these ravens or crows that we’re traditionally guarding against? Or are those just two names for the same type of bird? Let’s take a closer look. What is a …