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catalyst

A catalyst is an event or person causing a change. Getting kicked out of your parents' house might be a catalyst for becoming more independent.

The noun catalyst is something or someone that causes a change and is derived from a Greek word. It can be somewhat ordinary, like a hot day being a catalyst for getting your hair cut really short. Or it can be major, like how the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is said to be a catalyst of World War I.

Choose your words

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

bare/ bear

Bare means naked, but to bear is to carry something. A bear is also a brown furry animal, but most people keep that one straight.
read more...

than/ then

Than compares things, but then is all about time. They sound similar and were even spelled the same until the 1700s. Not anymore! Vive la difference!
read more...

mean/ median/ average

Wordsmiths sometimes dislike numbers, or at least have a hard time grasping them. These words offer us an opportunity to better understand numbers and use their terms more precisely in writing and speaking.
read more...

compose/ comprise

Compose is to make up a whole, and comprise is to contain parts. Poodles compose the dog class because the class comprises poodles. The parts compose the whole, and the whole comprises the parts. Confused? Everybody else is! read more...

lose/ loose

Lose sounds like snooze. If you lose something, you don’t have it anymore. Add an “o” and loose rhymes with goose and describes something that’s not attached. read more...

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...

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