Hoax, Fake, and Other Words for Deception

It’s a harsh indictment of human nature that we have so many words for deception. (I’m assuming that English is not alone in this.) The frequent use of the words hoax and fake in these duplicitous times has led me to explore their meanings and synonyms. Hoax functions as either a noun or a verb. … Read more

Good vs. Well

The words good and well have been in English since its earliest incarnation. When Beowulf finds the ancient sword in the underwater cave of Grendel’s mother, one of the words used to describe it is good. Likewise, when the Beowulf poet contemplates the afterlife, he says, “Well [i.e., “in a state of good fortune”] is … Read more


The useful adjective hindmost may be shifting into the territory of the unfamiliar, where words become vulnerable to a change in meaning. The opposite of foremost (“most forward or advanced in position”), the word hindmost is closely associated with the collocation, “Devil take the hindmost.” As an adjective, hindmost denotes a fixed position of being … Read more

Let’s Save “Critique” vs. “Criticize”

Regard the use of the word critique in the following examples: My boyfriend critiques the way I make the bed and fold the towels. Control freaks are compelled to critique every little thing you do. Perhaps you need to look in a mirror before you critique someone else’s comments. Using the word critique in these … Read more