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Overhauling Has Nautical History

In nautical parlance, if you slacken a rope by pulling in the opposite direction to separate the blocks in a block-and-tackle system, you’re said to overhaul it — the inspiration for the more general term that means to “change...

At Large

If a suspect is at large, he is moving about freely. The term at large, which comes to us via French from Latin, refers not to size but to distance. The phrase by and large, meaning “generally” or “on the whole,” derives from...

Towards vs. Toward

Which is correct, toward or towards, meaning in the direction of? If you’re in the United States, the far more common term is toward. This is part of a complete episode.

Sea Change Meaning and Origin

A sea change is a profound transformation, although some people erroneously use it to mean a slight shift, as when winds change direction on the surface of the ocean. In reality, the term refers to the kind of change effected on something submerged...

Going Over vs. Going Over To

Jeff from Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, wants to know if he’s wrong to say, I’m going over Martha’s house, meaning “I’m going over to Martha’s house.” He’s always left out the word to from that...

Borrow vs. Lend vs. Loan

What’s the difference between borrow and lend, or between borrow and loan? The real difference between these verbs is which direction the thing is traveling. Something similar happens with teach vs. learn and bring vs. take. This is part of a...