Monday, September 23, 2019

Vocabulary Quiz #4 (Phobias)

Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #4

Ten Phobias

PHOBIA (noun): an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation

The word "phobia" comes from the Greek word phobos, meaning fear or horror

Number 16 presents a multiple choice vocabulary quiz on phobias.  Choose the correct definition of each word listed.  There are ten words for you to define.  Ready, set, go!

1.  technophobia (noun)

A.  Fear or dislike of the internet and social media

B.  Fear or dislike of computer nerds and information technicians

C.  Fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices and especially computers

D.  Fear or dislike of computer viruses

E.  Fear or dislike of excessive email

2.  hydrophobia (noun)

A.  A morbid dread of being electrocuted

B.  A morbid fear of thunder and lightning

C.  A morbid fear of hydro poles

D.  A morbid dread of water

E.  A morbid fear of freezing

3.  triskaidekaphobia (noun)

A.  Fear of the number three

B.  Fear of the number 13

C.  Fear of the number 30

D,  Fear of the "Three of Spades"

E.  Fear of Thursday

4.  panophobia (noun)

A.  A condition of vague, nonspecific anxiety: generalized fear

B.  A fear of forests and trees

C.  A fear of darkness

D.  A morbid fear of being lost or abandoned

E.  A fear of loud voices

5.  nomophobia (noun)

A.  Fear of famous people

B.  Fear of  public speaking

C.  Fear of being without access to a working cell phone

D.  Fear of security guards and police officers

E.  Fear of very tall people

6.  pyrophobia (noun)

A.  Morbid dread of pirates

B.  Morbid dread of funerals

C.  Morbid dread of torches

D,  Morbid dread of swords

E.  Morbid dread of fire

7.  photophobia (noun)

A.  Intolerance to light

B.  Fear of cameras

C.  Aversion to having one's picture taken

D.  Fear of selfies

E.  Fear of darkness

8.  ophidiophobia (noun)

A.  Abnormal fear of birds

B.  Abnormal fear of bees and wasps

C.  Abnormal fear of snails

D.  Abnormal fear of snakes

E.   Abnormal fear of jelly fish

9.  amathophobia (noun)

A.  Fear of foreign languages

B.  Fear of mold and mildew

C.  Fear of mathematics

D.  Fear of dirty laundry

E.  Fear of dust

10.  cynophobia (noun)

A.  Pathological fear or loathing of drums and drumming

B.  Pathological fear or loathing of dogs

C.  Pathological fear or loathing of the colour red

D.  Pathological fear or loathing of cymbals

E.   Pathological fear or loathing of chipmunks

(Note:  The definitions for the correct answers have been taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary or thesaurus)

1.  C
techophobia (noun): Fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices and especially computers

2.  D
hyrophobia (noun): A morbid dread of water, also known as "aquaphobia"

3.  B
triskaidekaphopia (noun): fear of the number 13

4.  A
panophobia (noun): A condition of vague, nonspecific anxiety: generalized fear - the fear of everything or that something terrible will happen

5.  C
nomophobia (noun): Fear of being without access to a working cell phone

6.  E
pyrophobia (noun): Morbid dread of fire

7.  A
photophobia (noun):  Intolerance to light, especially pain sensitiveness to strong light

8.  D
ophidiophobia (noun):  Abnormal fear of snakes as in "The fear of snakes, called ophidiophobia, is a common phobia."

9.  E
amathophobia (noun): Fear of dust, derived from the Greek word amathos meaning sand

10. B
 cynophobia (noun): Pathological fear or loathing of dogs as in "If a person were bitten by a dog, the experience could lead to cynophobia."

- Joanne

Thursday, September 12, 2019

When to use "every day" and "everyday?"

Sly and the Family Stone

Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I'm in

I am everyday people, yeah yeah . . . 

- Lyrics from the song "Everyday People"
By Sly Stone

Back in 1969, Sly and the Family Stone had a big hit with the song "Everyday People."  They proclaimed loudly that they were part of the whole of humanity.  In reference to the song title, "everyday" is single word and an adjective.  It modifies a noun, and it is used to describe something as normal and commonplace.  "Everyday" people are ordinary people.  Your ordinary routine is your "everyday routine."

Does that mean that "everyday" as a single word is always correct?  No, it does not.  "Every day" (two words) is a noun phrase, consisting of the adjective "every" PLUS a noun "day." as in "The athlete runs every day between 10 and 11 a.m."  "Every day" provides information about time.
When it describes time, it usually appears at the beginning or end of a clause.

So, what is a quick way to remember whether to use "every day" or "everyday?"  Well, keep in mind that "every day" is synonymous with "each day."  If you can replace "each day" with "every day" and it makes sense, then you are on the right track.  If it doesn't look right, then use "everyday."

Here are some sentences in which "everyday" and "every day" are used correctly.

I get up early in the morning and jog.  That is my everyday routine.

I eat a healthy breakfast every day.

Those are just my everyday shoes.  I don't wear them on special occasions.

That's an everyday occurrence in our house. (meaning "daily")

Every day, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. (meaning "each day")

Note: A hyphen between "every" and "day" should not be used.

Literary Quote of the Day

From:  The Scarlet Letter

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), American novelist and short story writer
Published: 1850 
Nathaniel Hawthorne

- Joanne

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fun with words: Malapropisms are amusing

Definition of malapropism from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

malapropism (noun): the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase especially : the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context 

Example of a malapropism: "Don't is a contraption." (rather than "a contraction")

According to teacher Gay Miller of North Carolina on the website Book Units Teacher: Educational Material for Upper Elementary, the definition of "malapropism" has been clarified.  A malapropism must contain the following three features:

1.  The new word replacing the original must have a different meaning.

2.  The substituted word must have a similar sound to the original word.

3.  The word must be recognized in the speaker's native language.

Origin of malapropism

The word comes from a character named Mrs. Malaprop in the play The Rivals (1775) by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), an Irish satirist, playwright and poet.  Mrs. Malaprop is a humorous aunt who becomes involved in the schemes and dreams of young lovers.  Throughout the play, she.  uses incorrect words to express herself.  Mrs. Malaprop's name is derived from the French term malapros, meaning "inappropriate."  The popularity of The Rivals led to the creation of the literary term "malapropism," meaning the use of an incorrect word, whether by accident or design, that sounds similar to the appropriate word.  The character committing the malapropism is usually somewhat silly or uneducated.

Richard Brimsley Sheridan

Here are some examples of Mrs. Malaprop's malapropisms:

". . . promise to forget this fellow. - to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory." (obliterate)

". . . she's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of Nile." (alligator)

"He is the very pine-apple of politeness." (pinnacle)

". . . behold this very day, I have interceded another letter from the fellow." (intercepted)

Malapropism is also referred to as Dogberryism, after the constable Dogberry, a comical character in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  In the play, he is the leader of a group of bumbling police watchmen and he frequently uses malapropisms.  For example  Dogberry says, "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons."  He means to say "apprehended two suspicious persons."

Below is a depiction of Dogberry by English artist Henry Stacy Marks.(1829-1898).

Other examples of malapropisms:

"For all intensive purposes" instead of "For all intense and purposes"

"Texas has a lot of electrical votes," - Attributed to baseball great Yogi Berra.(1925-2015)
(Although Yogi is given credit for many errors of the English language, he is also credited with many remarks that he never uttered.  He allegedly made the comment about Texas to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, who was running for president and was throwing out the first pitch at a Houston Astros game (Yogi was then a coach for the Astros).  According to the story, Bush told Berra  that Texas is very important. and Berra replied, "I know, Texas has a lot of electrical votes," mistaking "electrical" for "electoral."  However, this conversation was never recorded in the Houston Chronicle or in any other newspaper.  The accuracy of the quotation remains uncertain and unverified).

Yogi is credited with the following malapropisms:

"He hits from both sides of the plate.  He's amphibious," rather than "ambidextrous."

"Take it with a grin of salt," rather than "grain of salt."

"He had to use a fire distinguisher," instead of "extinguisher."

"He's a wolf in cheap clothing," rather than "sheep's clothing."

"My friend has extra-century perception," rather than "extra-sensory perception."

"I need five more to make my quotation for the month," instead of "quota."

"Michelangelo painted the Sixteenth Chapel," instead of "Sistine Chapel."

"My brother takes me for granite," rather than "takes me for granted."

"Isn't that an expensive pendulum around that woman's neck?" rather than "expensive pendant around that woman's neck."

"Jesus healed the leopards," rather than "lepers."

"The doctor administered the anecdote," rather than "antidote."

"The computer was invested with viruses," rather than "infested with viruses."

Here is a selection of malapropisms from George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States

"We are making steadfast progress," instead of "steady progress."

"It will take time to restore chaos and order," rather than "law and order."

"The law I sign today directs new funds . . . to the task of collecting vital intelligence . . . on weapons of mass production," rather than 'weapons of mass destruction."

In the 1933 film, Sons of the Desert, comedian Stan Laurel refers to a "nervous shakedown," rather than "nervous breakdown."  He also calls "the exalted ruler, "the exhausted ruler." 

Oliver Hardy (left) and Stan Laurel in "Sons of the Desert"

Archie Bunker, as played by Carroll O'Connor, on TV's All in the Family, was in the habit of using malapropisms.  Here are some sample's of Archie's way with words:

An "ivory shower" (rather than an ivory tower)

A house of "ill refute" (rather than ill repute)

A "pig's eye" (rather than a pig sty)

"Nectarines of he god" (rather than nectar of the gods)

- Joanne

Friday, September 6, 2019

Is there a difference between "crucial" and "critical?"


The words "crucial" and "critical" are used interchangeably.  Yet there is an important distinction between them.  One of the meanings of "criticaL," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is "TURNING POINT," as in the following:

CRITICAL: of relating to or being a turning point or specially important juncture

a critical phase such as
relating to or being the stage of a disease at which an abrupt change for better or worse may be expected..

also: being or relating to an illness or condition involving danger or death.
critical care

a patient listed in critical condition

Crucial and critical are adjectives relating to something important, significant or vital.  However "critical" implies something much more serious.  We say that after a heart attack, a person is in "critical condition" NOT "crucial condition."  The outcome of a particular basketball game is "crucial" for a team's chances of making the playoffs, but it is NOT "critical."  It is not a matter of life or death.

The difference betwen "crucial" and "critical" is a matter of degree, but there is a distinction.


From: On The Road

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Author: Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), American novelist and poet
Published: 1957

Jack Kerouac

From: Invisible Man

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat."

Author: Ralph Ellison (1914-1994), American novelist, literary critic and scholar
Published: 1952

Ralph Ellison

- Joanne

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Vocabulary Quiz #3 (Ten words beginning with the Letter "A")

Number 16 Vocabulary Quiz #3

Ten words beginning with the letter "A"

Number 16 presents a multiple choice vocabulary quiz.  Choose the correct definition of each word listed.  There are ten words for you to define.  Ready, set, go!

1.  angling (verb)

A.  Teasing

B.  Struggling, having difficulty

C.  The action or sport of fishing with hook and line

D.  Marching in a parade

E.  Munching on food

2.  abstruse (adjective)

A.   illegal, criminal

B.   Poverty-stricken, down and out

C.   A description for a kind of triangle

D.  Sharp, biting, acerbic

E.  Difficult to comprehend

3.  avuncular (adjective)

A.  Round, circular

B.  Suggestive of an uncle, especially in kindness or geniality

C.  Heavy, a burden, difficult to transport

D.  Uninformed, lacking knowledge

E.   Happy-go-lucky, jovial, personable, easy to get along with

4.  apostasy (noun)

A.  An act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith

B.   An act of abandoning a ship or crew, mutiny

C.   Paganism

D.  The act of betraying one's country by accepting bribery for personal and financial gain

E.  Voting in an election under false pretenses.

5.  ascertain (verb)

A.  To ignore the truth or that which is certain

B.  To conceal the truth

C.  To find out or learn with certainty

D.  To accidentally discover

E.   To argue that something is absolutely certain or true

6.  abstemious (adjective)

A.  Fasting often and for long periods

B.  Completely abstaining from drinking alcohol, as of a teetotaller

C.  Consuming a great deal of food and alcohol

D.  Marked by restraint, especially in the eating of food or the drinking of alcohol

E.  As of a person who has quit drinking due to alcoholism

7.  adherent (noun)

A.  A particular glue or sticky substance

B.  A follower of a leader, party or profession; a believer in a particular idea or church

C.  A frequent churchgoer

D.  A political protester

E.   One has always lived in the same city

8.  affront (verb)

A.  To insult especially to the face by behaviour or language, to cause offence to

B.  To shun someone by avoiding them or not responding to their phone calls or messages

C.  To become involved in a cause or a project

D.  To face someone after an awkward or embarrassing incident

E.  To imitate someone

9.  apocalyptic (adjective)

A.  Relating to an unpleasant time in one's life

B.  In sports, relating to a great contest, game or competition

C.  The performance of magic to prevent a disaster

D.  Foreboding imminent disaster or final doom

E.   The fulfilling of a great prophecy

10.  apoplexy (noun)

A.  A state of fearfulness and extreme anxiety

B.  A state of deep depression

C.  A state of intense and almost uncontrollable anger

D.  Severe acne

E.   A state of being very energetic

(Note:  The definitions for the correct answers have been taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary or thesaurus)

1.  C
angling (verb): The action or sport of fishing with hook and line

2.  E
abstruse (adjective): Difficult to comprehend, as in "an abstruse theory or idea."

3.  B
avuncular (adjective): Suggestive of an uncle, especially in kindness or geniality

4.  A.
apostasy: An act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith

5.  C
ascertain (verb): To find out or learn with certainty, as in "ascertain the truth."

6.  D
abstemious (adjective): Marked by restraint, especially in the eating of food or the drinking of alcohol
as in "an abstemious drinker" or "an abstemious diet."

7.  B
adherent (noun): A follower of a leader, party or profession; a believer in a particular idea or church, as in "adherents of Sigmund Freud," "adherents of conservatism," "adherents of Christianity."

8.  A
affront (verb):
To insult especially to the face by behaviour or language as in He was affronted by her rudeness.  To cause offence to, as in "laws that affront society"

9.  D
apocalyptic (adjective): Foreboding imminent disaster or final doom, as in "apocalyptic warnings," PROPHETIC

10.  C
apoplexy (noun): A state of intense and almost uncontrollable anger, as in The politician's speech caused apoplexy among the members of the audience.

- Joanne 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Do "convince" and "persuade" mean the same thing?


Welcome to our new format!  Number 16 is changing.  As of today (September 1, 2019),  its focus will be narrower.  It will become a site devoted to language, including vocabulary, quotations, grammar and literature.  I started this website back in 2010 and I have enjoyed writing it immensely.  It has dealt with a wide variety of topics over the years, but the time has come to concentrate on one major area of interest.

All my writings will remain archived as well as the material on the tabs.  I will continue with my monthly quotes and there will be vocabulary quizzes.

- Joanne


Are "convince" and "persuade" synonyms?  Should they be used interchangeably?  Although people commonly do so, the answer is no.  There is a distinction.  They are not exactly the same.  The best way to understand the difference between the two words is to remember the following rhyme:


I can "convince" you of something based on facts and reason.  I can persuade you to do something.  "Persuade" has to do with action., while "convince" has to do with the mind.


I convinced him of my sincerity.
I persuaded her to walk to the park with me.

The infinitive is used with persuade - "to walk."

It is extremely common to use "convince" and "persuade" interchangeably.  In fact, most people do.  It t is still preferable, however, to make the distinction.


"No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be."

- Bram Stoker, (1847-1912), Irish author
From Dracula [1897]

"Reducing inequality should be a primary goal of public policy.  The measure of a society is the quality of life throughout the pyramid, not just at the top, and a growing body of research shows that those born at the bottom today have less chance than in earlier generations to achieve prosperity or to contribute to society's general welfare 

This is not just bad for those who suffer, it is bad for the affluent too.  When wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few, studies show, total consumption declines and investment lags."

- Benjamin Applebaum
The New York Times, September 1, 2019


Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author of science fiction and adventure.  He was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 1, 1875 (144 years ago today).  He is best known as the creator of the jungle hero, Tarzan.  Another of his characters was John Carter, a heroic Mars adventurer.

Burroughs died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950 at the age of 74. 

- Joanne