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By Judy Vorfeld Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, & Heteronyms HOMONYM: One of two or more words hav­ing the same sound and often the same spelling but dif­fer­ent mean­ings. Examples: quail (cower), and quail (bird) fair (appear­ance), fair (county fair), and fair (rea­son­able). HOMOPHONE: One of two or more […]

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Viola, Viola, or Voila?

By Judy Vorfeld How many times have you heard tri­umphant trum­pets (in one sense or another) while some­one said some­thing like, “Viola! We did it!”? Um, it’s pos­si­ble that these peo­ple didn’t get the word quite right. Betcha they meant “Voilà!“ A viola (vee-oh-lah) is a stringed instru­ment that […]

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Free reign or free rein?

FREE REIGN OR FREE REIN? It’s “rein.” Merriam Webster says it’s unre­stricted lib­erty of action or deci­sion.” The Cambridge Dictionary of Idioms says “free rein” is syn­ony­mous with “allow” and “give.” If you give peo­ple, ideas, or emo­tions free rein, they are free to develop with­out the intrusion […]

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Dissemble vs Disassemble

By Judy Vorfeld DISSEMBLE Dictionaries say that to dis­sem­ble is to hide under a false appear­ance, con­ceal facts, inten­tions, or feel­ings under some pre­tense. Hmm, what could we use as exam­ples? How about peo­ple in the pub­lic eye? Like the occa­sional politi­cian. Or CEO. Then there’s the sweet, […]

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Less vs Than

By Judy Vorfeld Ever heard that it’s wrong to say, “Less than 50 peo­ple took part in the poll,” and that “Fewer” is the proper word? How can we tell which is right? “Fewer” should be used with a plural noun that describes a group of indi­vid­ual items that can […]

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