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Caught between words?

Don't be confused! Learn how to make the right choice.
precedent/ president

How has the United States affected this word pair, precedent and president? Let's find out. Continue reading...

epitaph/ epithet

An epitaph is written on a tombstone. An epithet is a nickname or a description of someone. Halloween graves often combine them: “Here lies Fearsome Frank, who bet that he could rob a bank. Continue reading...

appraise/ apprise

To appraise is to estimate the value of something, but remove the second “a,” and you have apprise, which means “to tell.” If you hire someone to appraise your house, you might have to apprise your family of the fact that you now owe the bank more than your house is worth. Continue reading...

tortuous/ torturous

Don’t torture yourself trying to remember the difference between tortuous and torturous. Tortuous describes something like the long and winding road. But torturous is what a room full of masochists might say: “Torture us!” It describes something painful, like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Continue reading...

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FEATURED WORD

pathologist

A student who is fascinated with the causes of disease and death might decide to go to medical school and become a pathologist.

A medical doctor who performs autopsies to learn how patients died is a pathologist. Other pathologists trace illness back to their root causes, or diagnose diseases such as cancer. When a doctor decides to to become a pathologist, her field is called "pathology." The Greek root of both words is pathologikos, "treating of disease," which combines pathos, "suffering," with logia, "study, or the study of."