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When you jilt someone, you throw them over or reject them, especially romantically. It would be cruel to jilt your boyfriend on the day before the prom.

If a bride jilts her groom, she leaves him waiting for her in his tuxedo, and if a boy jilts his date, he never shows up at the planned time. In either case, it's an unkind and thoughtless thing to do to someone. In the 1660s, to jilt meant "to deceive, cheat, or trick," and it was also a noun meaning "woman who gives hope and then dashes it," from the Middle English root gille, "lass or wench."

Choose your words

Caught between words? Learn how to make the right choice.

flounder/ founder

To flounder is to struggle, but to founder is to sink like a stone and fail. Both are fun as nouns, not so fun as verbs.

empathy/ sympathy

Empathy is heartbreaking — you experience other people’s pain and joy. Sympathy is easier because you just have to feel sorry for someone. Send a sympathy card if someone’s cat died; feel empathy if your cat died, too.

disinterested/ uninterested

If you’re disinterested, you’re unbiased; you’re out of the loop. But if you’re uninterested, you don’t give a hoot; you’re bored. These two words have been duking it out, but the battle may be over for uninterested. Heavyweight disinterested has featherweight uninterested on the ropes.

epigram/ epigraph

An epigram is a little poem or clever statement, but an epigraph is a specific kind of epigram: a witty statement that's inscribed somewhere, such as on a building or at the beginning of a chapter or book. read more...

healthful/ healthy

Healthful describes something that will create good health, like apples, yoga, and fresh air. Healthy describes someone fit, trim, and utterly not sick. read more...

moral/ morale

A moral is the lesson of a story. Add an "e" and you have morale: the spirit of a group that makes everyone want to pitch in and do better. read more...

See all Choose Your Words articles »
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