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Emphasizing Words

Emphasizing one word over another, especially in written correspondence, makes a huge difference in the meaning of a sentence. And if all caps or italics don’t do the trick in an email, consider using an emoticon. This is part of a complete...

The Common Meaning of Inertia

In the scientific sense, inertia is the tendency for things to continue doing what they’re doing, like staying in motion. But the common meaning of inertia almost always refers to the tendency to do nothing, making inertia something that must...

Conflicting Meanings of “Peruse”

The word peruse is such a confusing term that it’s best to avoid it entirely. Some English speakers were taught it means “to read casually,” while others were taught exactly the opposite. This is part of a complete episode.

Hoodwink Etymology

To hoodwink, or put something over on someone, derives from the act of thieves literally throwing a hood on victims before robbing them, thereby making them wink, which has an archaic meaning of “to close one’s eyes.” This is part...

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