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freak

Freak is a not-so-nice noun that refers to either a person who expresses such an intense obsession with something that it resembles addiction, or a person or animal that is monstrous and deformed.

Synonyms for freak, when used to describe something or something abnormal, include anomaly, chimera, misshape, and oddity. Weirdo is slang for freak, and regular is its antonym. People who ardently adore a particular type of music, like heavy metal, or who have many piercings or identify with a subculture, are often labeled freak. A freak occurrence, on the other hand, is not necessarily a bad thing, but connotes something irregular or unexpected. A freak of nature can lead to thunder-snow, and a freak accident can lead to, well, a missing ear or toe.

Choose your words

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

hoard/ horde

To hoard is to squirrel stuff away, like gold bricks or candy wrappers. A horde is a crowd of people, usually, but it can also be a gang of mosquitoes, robots, or rabid zombie kittens.
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medal/ meddle/ mettle

Here we have a trio of words that sound the same (at least in American English) but mean very different things: medal, meddle, and mettle.
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figuratively/ literally

Figuratively means metaphorically, and literally describes something that actually happened. If you say that a guitar solo literally blew your head off, your head should not be attached to your body.
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aggravate/ irritate

Aggravate means to make something worse, and irritate is to annoy. But if you use aggravate to mean “annoy,” no one will notice. That battle has been lost in all but the most formal writing. read more...

indeterminate/ indeterminable

Understanding the nuances of this word pair, indeterminate and indeterminable, hinges on understanding the words' parts. The root word, determine, means to establish something. read more...

unexceptional/ unexceptionable

Clearly, past writers have confused the meanings of unexceptional and unexceptionable to an extent that meanings are expanding. read more...

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