Mixed-up Meanings

  1. “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 …

  2. “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 …

  3. “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 …

  4. “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 …

  5. “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 …

  6. “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 …

  7. Is “Noel” The Same Thing As “Christmas”?

    Christmas is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians celebrate the holiday on December 25. (Fun fact: it is actually celebrated on January 7 in the Orthodox Church due to the use of a different calendar.) Everyone knows this holiday as Christmas, right? But did you know there’s also another name for it? First, what does …

  8. “Indica” vs. “Sativa”: There Is A Difference

    Marijuana dispensaries offer customers and patients a variety of options for either medical or recreational use. These decisions can be overwhelming for someone who’s not familiar with the industry lingo. One decision a consumer might have to make is what strain (“a group of plants distinguished from other plants of the variety to which it belongs by some intrinsic quality”) of cannabis to purchase. Although there …

  9. “Nauseated” vs. “Nauseous”: Which One To Use When You’re Feeling Sick

      Nauseous and nauseated originally had different definitions. In current common usage, though, the words have evolved to become practically interchangeable. Let’s explore the differences between the two a bit closer. What does nauseous mean? The word nauseous describes “something that causes a feeling of nausea or disgust.” Here’s an example: “The nauseous odor made the boy feel sick.” In this sentence, the word nauseous …

  10. “Alligator” vs. “Crocodile”: Do You Know The Difference?

    While enjoying a dip in the ocean, there’s one thing you definitely don’t want to see: a shark fin in the water. The same thing can be said about a dip in a lake or pond—only the creature you want to avoid happens to be a massive reptile instead. But is the animal who glides along the swampy waters with just its eyes showing a …

  11. “Cost” vs. “Price”: How Much Is The Difference?

    We love to talk about and compare the price of things. Maybe you remember the price of your favorite candy bar when you were a kid versus what its price is now. Or maybe you’ve had to take a good look at the cost of living in an expensive city. You’ve asked yourself, is it worth it? Can you afford it? When we start a new hobby …

  12. “Grieve” vs. “Bereave”: What Is The Difference?

    When you’re sad about the loss of a person, a pet, or even an item, it can feel like there are no words to describe those feelings. Emotions take over and melancholy sets in. But after that initial reaction, when the feelings start to subside, do you tell others you were grieving or bereaving that loss? Let’s explore the differences between these two mournful words. What does …