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Our dictionary was written for humans, by humans. Look up a word, and you’ll read a friendly explanation that you'll actually remember. It’s as if your favorite teacher were explaining it to you.

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Read thousands of example sentences from current newspapers, magazines, and literature. We show you how words live in the wild and give you usage tips so that you're more confident about using the words you learn.

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vanishing

When something is there one minute and gone the next, you can describe its disappearance as a vanishing.

Magicians practice long and hard to pull off the trick they call vanishing, while the art of vanishing seems to come easily to cats. Any time something — or someone — disappears mysteriously, it's a vanishing. The word vanishing is a gerund, or a noun that's made by adding ing to a verb, in this case vanish. It in turn comes from the Latin evanescere, "disappear," whose root word is vanus, or "empty."

Choose your words

Caught between words? 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.
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veracious/ voracious

Voracious describes someone super hungry, like a zombie or a wolf. A voracious appetite makes you want to eat a whole cake. Veracious (with an "e") means truthful, as in a veracious first president who cannot tell a lie.
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connote/ denote

Don’t let the rhyme fool you — to connote is to imply a meaning or condition, and to denote is to define exactly. Connote is like giving a hint, but to denote is to refer to something outright.
read more...

incredible/ incredulous

Incredible describes something you can’t believe because it’s so right, like an incredible double rainbow. Incredulous describes how you feel when you can’t believe something because it’s so wrong, like when someone tells you leprechauns left two pots of gold. read more...

prophecy/ prophesy

One letter separates prophecy from prophesy, and the close relationship is derived from a shared word history. read more...

elusive/ illusive

An elusive fairy is one you can't catch, but an illusive one was never really there at all. It was just an illusion! read more...

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