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Note 219 – The meaning of the word secular

You appear to be able to use the word secular in many contexts, but its main use is when referring to something ‘non-religious’ or ‘worldly’. It is also means “occurring or observed once in an age or century” according to The Free Dictionary. The use of the adjective secular in sentences: The rules applied to both secular and religious buildings. … Continue reading

Note 213 – The latin term bona fide

The first known use of the Latin term bona fide was in 1632 (source Merriam Webster online dictionary).  Below are some definitions followed by the use of bona fide in sentences. Definitions The definition of bona fide is ‘good faith’. Daily Writing Tips explain that in contract law, “parties must always act in good faith if … Continue reading

Note 209 – The Latin term ‘status quo’

Wiktionary shows this Latin term in two parts: status meaning ‘state’ and quo meaning ‘in which’.  According to Wikipedia, the definition of status quo is ‘current or existing state of affairs’. The status quo is how things are right now, rather than how things could be. Example sentences Fire swept through the town destroying many buildings. … Continue reading

Note 207 – The use of the word frisson

Merriam Webster  defines the noun frisson as a “brief moment of emotional excitement”. The Collins English Dictionary has a similar meaning of “shiver of fear or excitement” . The appropriate synonyms are shudder and thrill which is also the translation of frisson in French (according to About.com). Did you know that the first known use of this word … Continue reading

Note 190 – Autohagiography and other unusual words

Tiny Online has a section on their website called ‘unusual words’.  The one that caught my eye today was ‘autohagiography’ which is a rarely used words meaning “one who speaks and writes in a smug fashion about their own life and accomplishments”.  World Wide Words (a site by writer Michael Quinion) say that: “The first use of it I can trace … Continue reading

Note 189 – Using the word ‘arrhae’

Having been at my cousin’s wedding all day in London, I knew that it was going to be tricky to find a writing tip to blog about – until halfway through the church service when my family turned to me and asked what arrhae meant. After googling it later, I’ve discovered that it means unity coins … Continue reading

Note 180 – The Latin word ‘viz’

Here are a few facts about the word viz (source: Wiktionary.org and Wikipedia.org): It is an adverb and abbreviation meaning ‘namely’ It comes from the Latin word videlicet.  Wiktionary states that “the ‘z’ [in viz] was originally not a letter but a common Middle Latin scribal abbreviation that was used for -et“. When reading it in a … Continue reading

Note 148 – Plurals of words ending in ‘-us’

There are many words of Latin or Greek origin which end in ‘-us’, however it is not always clear what the plural form is.  Do words like ‘hippopotamus’ and ‘octopus’ end in -es or -i? The website About.com explains that it is best to go with hippopotamuses http://homeworktips.about.com/od/plurals/f/hippopotamus.htm, whereas with the word octopus you apparently cannot go wrong if you guess the plural as octopuses, octopodes or octopi … Continue reading

Note 138 – The expression ‘faux pas’

The noun faux pas (pronounced fo pa) is a French expression, literally translated as ‘false step’.  It is commonly used in British English where the actual meaning is “social blunder or indiscretion” (according to The Free Dictionary http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faux+pas and the Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus).  Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faux_pas also define it as “a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct”. According to Wikipedia the words faux pas … Continue reading

Note 137 – The use of the word ‘presently’

How do use the word ‘presently’ in a sentence?  My grandparents used it when I was a child when saying something like “we will be eating the cake presently”. I remember the meaning to be later – sometime in the future. According to The Writer’s Handbook by Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library), the meaning is dependent on the … Continue reading

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