Quasi, the Queer Qualifier

What, exactly, does the prefix quasi mean, and can it stand on its own? The term, from Latin, is used as a qualifier to denote that something resembles or is like something but is not exactly equivalent, and, yes, quasi is an adverb. Quasi often appears in phrasal adjectives as a more formal alternative to … Read more

The Combining Form -pod

The Greek and Latin words for leg and foot have given English the combining form -pod. Some words formed with -pod entered English earlier, but a great many were coined in the nineteenth century as the study of entomology and paleontology expanded. Here are a few, with their literal meanings and the date of their … Read more

50 Slang Terms for Money

I find very little about money to be interesting, other than counting my own, but I’ve noted that there’s a rich fund of slang terms for money that can help enliven both casual and more serious content about currency and finance. Here’s a roster of slang synonyms in plural form for words for US currency … Read more

20 Types and Forms of Humor

Humor comes in many flavors, any of which may appeal to one person but not to another, and which may be enjoyed in alternation or in combination. Here are names and descriptions of the varieties of comic expression: 1. Anecdotal: Named after the word anecdote (which stems from the Greek term meaning “unpublished”); refers to … Read more

20 Synonyms for “Expert”

Just as the many synonyms for beginner should be picked over with care to capture the correct connotation, the numerous alternatives available for referring to an expert have sometimes unique or specific senses appropriate for some contexts and unsuitable for others. Here’s a usage guide to such words: 1. Ace (ultimately derived from the Latin … Read more

20 Clipped Forms and Their Place (If Any) in Formal Writing

Clipped forms, shortened abbreviations of words, have a checkered history. Some are acceptable in formal writing, and others aren’t. When writing in academic contexts, in business writing, or another formal environment, take note of the status of these common clipped forms: 1. Ad: In formal writing, the full form, advertisement, is usually employed. 2. Bra: … Read more

25 Synonyms for “Expression”

Many words can be employed to refer to an expression. Most, as you’ll see, are true synonyms of one or more others, but a few have specific (and sometimes unique) connotations. Here are the synonyms and their senses: 1. Adage (from the Latin adagium, “proverb”) — An often metaphorical observation: “The early bird gets the … Read more

15 Terms for Forms and Types of Governance

Is the United States a democracy, or a republic? (Both.) What’s the difference between an autocracy and a dictatorship? (There is none.) These and other questions of usage are answered with definitions and connotations of terms referring to forms and philosophies of government listed below: 1. Anarchy: Anarchy is from the Greek word meaning “no … Read more

Word Origin Influences Your Writing Voice

When it comes to writing, are you the Anglo-Saxon type, or do you go for French flair? You probably realize that Modern English derives from a wide variety of sources, and perhaps are aware that words derived from French are just as common in our language as those that are descended directly from Old English, … Read more

50 Rhetorical Devices for Rational Writing

Is rhetorician on your resume? It should be, because I’d be surprised if you haven’t employed one or more of the methods listed below for conveying emphasis to your writing. Rhetoric, the art of persuasive written or spoken discourse, was developed in ancient Greece, and every one of the terms below stems from classical Greek … Read more

Clean out of spondulicks!

While looking up something else, I came across the slang word spondulicks, meaning “money.” It has a U.S. origin, but I don’t recall having ever noticed it before. It’s in the OED: spondulicks: n. slang. orig. U.S. [Of fanciful formation.] Money, cash. Also, a piece of money, a coin. 1857 in R. H. Thornton Amer. Gloss. … Read more

Dictionaries and Lexicons

Both dictionaries and lexicons are collections of words. Both words derive from Latin and Greek words meaning “to speak” or “to say.” dictionary: A book dealing with the individual words of a language (or certain specified classes of them), so as to set forth their orthography, pronunciation, signification, and use, their synonyms, derivation, and history, … Read more