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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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intermittent

Reach for the adjective intermittent to describe periodic movement and stopping and starting over a period of time.

The adjective intermittent modifies things that work or stop and start at periodic intervals. An interesting use of something intermittent is a metronome, a device that marks off time in music by making a sound in a regular pattern. It provides structure for musicians, especially when there are several instruments all playing different melodies at the same time. Other intermittent things are the windshield wipers on your car and thank goodness for them when it rains!

Choose your words

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

venal/ venial

Catholics everywhere are confused: do they commit venal sins or venial sins? And what is a venal/venial sin anyway?
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discomfit/ discomfort

To discomfit is to embarrass someone. Say it with a Southern accent while sipping sweet tea. Discomfort is a noun meaning uncomfortable, like the feeling you get when you realize you put salt instead of sugar in Mama’s tea.
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afflict/ inflict

Both afflict and inflict cause pain, but afflict means to cause suffering or unhappiness, something a disease does, but inflict means to force pain or suffering, like if you smack someone upside the head.
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demur/ demure

To demur is to show reluctance or to hesitate, like not quite getting in the car when someone opens the door, but demure isalways an adjective describing a modest, reserved, or shy person, and sounds like the mew of a tiny kitten. read more...

disassemble/ dissemble

Disassemble is to take something apart, like an old car motor, but dissemble is sneaky — it means to hide your true self, like the guy who said he was a mechanic but had never actually seen a motor, much less put one back together. read more...

pitiable/ pitiful/ piteous/ pitiless

We don't often look at four words that can be easily confused for each other, but this pack is an exception. read more...

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