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To scramble is to move quickly in a disorganized fashion, like people running to get out of the rain. When you scramble a message, it can no longer be read.

Have you ever run somewhere, in a hurry, with no regard for how you looked? Then you scrambled. Quarterbacks scramble when they need to escape defenders trying to clobber them. A scramble is not graceful; people scramble when they want to get somewhere fast. Also, scrambling refers to altering a message so others can't read it. Putting a message into code is a type of scrambling. Scrambled messages are like scrambled eggs: all mixed up.

Choose your words

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

it's/ its

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's is short for "it is"! But its simply owns something — it's soooo possessive. Its is the possessive form of "it."

formerly/ formally

Formerly is something that happened before, like when a pop star changed his name to a squiggle, he became known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. But formally comes from formal, or fancy, like the prom.

persecute/ prosecute

What is it about pursuing legal action that makes people think of harassing someone? Although we're not sure, it turns out that people have been confusing persecute and prosecute from the start.

intense/ intensive/ intent

If your teacher offered you a choice between an intense course or an intensive one, which one would you choose? And would you wonder what his intent was? read more...

ferment/ foment

When change is a brewin', remember: to ferment is to cause a chemical change to food or drink, like turning grapes into wine, but to foment is to stir up trouble, like turning a group of people into an angry mob. read more...

irony/ satire/ sarcasm

Irony, satire, and sarcasm all fall into the category of, "That's funny but I'm not sure what my English teacher wants me to call it." read more...

See all Choose Your Words articles »
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