Mixed-up Meanings

  1. “Then” vs. “Than”: See If You Know The Difference Between Them

    Then and than are among the 100 most frequently used words in the English language. The fact that they’re so common means that they’re also commonly misused! Do you say I will call you no later than 7 pm or then 7 pm? Would you say the company needs a good accountant more than (or then) ever? Some examples are trickier than others, but you can learn to distinguish …

  2. What Is The Difference Between “Weather” vs. “Climate”?

    Although there is a wealth of scientific evidence, the difference between weather and climate can be difficult to understand. But all hope is not lost—we're here to help you learn the difference.
  3. “Capital” vs. “Capitol”: Do You Know Where You’re Going?

    Capital and capitol are both commonly used in political contexts and are separated by just one letter, making them frustratingly easy to confuse. When it comes to these two terms, it’s important to note that one has a number of meanings while the other refers to a certain type of building. What is a capital? Capital has many definitions. It can mean “the wealth owned …

  4. “WikiLeaks” vs. “Wikipedia”: Do You Know The Difference?

    How well do you know your wikis? Maybe you’ve heard about a site that releases classified material from whistle-blowers. Or maybe you’re looking for an up-to-date source of historical dates and biographical information. Do you turn to WikiLeaks? Do you search through Wikipedia? The confusion is all the more understandable given that these two sites even look alike. Well, wonder no more. We’re about to leak you …

  5. What’s The Difference Between “Mistrust” vs. “Distrust”?

    Trust us on this one. There’s only a slight difference between these two. In general, distrust and mistrust are considered synonyms, both based on the word trust (although centuries apart).  As nouns, both words refer to a condition of lacking trust, and are effectively interchangeable. As verbs, well, it’s a bit more complicated, as you’ll see. What’s the origin of trust? The word trust is first …

  6. “Unalienable” vs. “Inalienable”: Is There A Difference?

    It’s safe to say that most of us don’t know the entire Declaration of Independence by heart. However, many of us are familiar enough with the document declaring independence from England to know that at one point, it gets into some inalienable rights that all Americans will have. Or was Thomas Jefferson writing about unalienable rights as he was putting quill to paper? Although these …

  7. “Paradox” vs. “Oxymoron”: How To Tell The (Seemingly Similar) Difference

    When parents become empty nesters after their kids head off to college, they may be surprised by the deafening silence of their home. The emptiness can be bittersweet as mom and dad find themselves alone together. In the above sentences, these parents are dealing with quite a few contradictions. Are these examples of oxymorons or paradoxes? Or, is an oxymoron a synonym for a paradox? Let’s take …

  8. “Libel” vs. “Slander”: How To Tell The Difference

    If you spread a nasty rumor about your boss, are you engaging in slander? Can a politician sue a newspaper for libel if an article calls her a liar? What do these two words mean, and are they interchangeable? Since both are types of defamation or “the act of making negative statements that hurt another person’s reputation,” and also illegal, you’ll want to make sure …

  9. “Contagious” vs. “Infectious”: The Difference Can Be Important

    by John Kelly, Senior Research Editor at Dictionary.com Whether it’s flu season, chickenpox at your kid’s school, concerns about measles in your town, or the coronavirus pandemic, the words contagious and infectious often come around in news and social media, in casual conversations and government communications. While these two terms get used interchangeably, knowing the difference between them can, in some cases, be life-saving. To …

  10. What’s The Difference Between Acronyms vs. Abbreviations?

    Is there a difference between acronyms and abbreviations? Most people think they’re pretty similar … and they’re definitely used in similar ways. But, there are slight differences What is an abbreviation? An abbreviation is any shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase. Did you catch the word any in there? That means abbreviation is the blanket term for all these shortened words we’ve all been using …