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Caught between words?

Don't be confused! Learn how to make the right choice.
sac/ sack

Both are containers, but a sac is for plants and animals, and a sack is for a sandwich. So spiders put their eggs in a sac, and people put their groceries in a sack. Continue reading...

eminent/ imminent

No, it’s not the name of the latest rapper from Detroit — eminent describes anyone who’s famous. But imminent refers to something about to happen, like the next big thing’s imminent rise to the top. These two words sound the same to some, but they’re unrelated. Continue reading...

economic/ economical

Economic is all about how money works, but something economical is a good deal. You might take an economic studiesclass to understand the ebb and flow of cash in the world, but if you buy a used textbook for it, you’re being economical. Continue reading...

ambiguous/ ambivalent

Something ambiguous is unclear or vague, like the end of a short story that leaves you scratching your head. But if you're ambivalent about something, you can take it or leave it. Whatever. Continue reading...

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FEATURED WORD

pillory

A pillory is a wooden frame with cutouts for someone's head and hands. Long ago, people found guilty of a crime could be sentenced to be locked in a pillory for a certain amount of time for punishment but also for public humiliation.

The verb pillory means to be punished by being locked in a pillory, but references to this form of punishment are historic and it is no longer used — you might see references today to someone in a pillory in a cartoon. As a modern verb, pillory means both to criticize harshly and to expose to public ridicule. Someone who is caught doing something immoral may be pilloried and people who believe they have been unfairly criticized say they have been pilloried, but often only after they've been exposed!