Word Facts

  1. Where Did The Strange Expression “Hair Of The Dog” Come From?

    If you’ve woken up on New Year’s Day feeling as if you’d been hit by a truck, you may have sought a hangover remedy with an infamously odd name: the hair of the dog. Let’s take a look at where this name comes from. What does hair of the dog mean? A morning drink may be the last thing you want after a night of boozing, but that’s …

  2. “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 …

  3. How To Pluralize Your Last Name

    If writing out your holiday cards or ordering a sign for the front of your house makes you break out in hives, you may know a few grammar sticklers who like to poke fun. You know the type: the people who own stock in red ink manufacturing and are quick to point out when you’ve misused that apostrophe and inappropriately pluralized your last name. But …

  4. “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 …

  5. “Torturous” vs. “Tortuous”: What Is The Difference?

    Separated by just one pesky letter, these two similar-sounding adjectives can be torturous to keep straight. Or is it tortuous? Let’s take a look at the definitions and applications of each. What does tortuous mean? Both torturous and tortuous come from the Latin verb torquēre meaning “to twist.” This derivation is easy to detect in the meaning of tortuous, defined as “full of twists, turns, or bends.” …

  6. “Quadragenarian” Or “Octogenarian”: What Is The Name For Your Decade Age?

    Every time another birthday rolls around, the thrills become fewer and the anxiety about aging becomes greater. But don’t let those landmark decade birthdays get you down! Now you can whip out a new word every 10 years to describe yourself. You may not have heard these words used very often, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Try saying one (or all) of them …

  7. “Recuse” vs. “Resign”: What’s The Difference?

    As with many legal and political terms, recuse and resign are often confused with each other. The differences between these terms are important to understand. What does recuse mean? To recuse means “to withdraw from performing legal duties because of potential bias or a conflict of interest.” This can apply to judges, jurors, lawyers, and so on, but it’s specific to the prejudice those individuals may exhibit. Although the …

  8. Where Does “Sunday” Get Its Name From?

    Sunday is the first day of the week, and it’s a day of rest before the start of the typical work week in many Western cultures. For some Christians and Catholics, it’s also the designated day for people to attend religious services in their Sunday best. The English name for Sunday, however, has nothing to do with its importance on the religious calendar. Whereas Wednesday …

  9. “Corporal,” “General,” “Sergeant,” “Private”: What’s The Order Of The Military Ranks?

    Growing up, most kids have that one friend with the incredibly strict parent. You know the one—the mom or dad who instills fear in everyone so that no one ever misbehaves around them, ever. There might also be a lot of yes ma’ams and no sirs involved. Well, it’s easy to joke that these parents are as strict as military officers. But in reality, not everyone …

  10. “Dopamine” vs. “Serotonin”: The Difference Between These Happy Hormones

    Bright and breezy? You’ve got serotonin to thank. Gloomy and grumpy? A big ol’ hug and a burst of oxytocin will perk you up. As it turns out, there’s a chemical side to happiness. Lifestyle factors and genetics certainly play a role in this—the latter accounting for 50 percent of your high spirits, research says. Still, how happy you are is dictated by a quartet …