Dysphoria and Other Dys- Words

A reader has asked for a post on dysphoria.
Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria. Whereas euphoria is a feeling of well-being, dysphoria is a state marked by feeling of unease or discomfort.
Perhaps the most familiar type of dysphoria comes from pangs of conscience: the bad feeling in the pit of one’s stomach that results from having done something unkind or dishonest.
Embarrassment is another kind of dysphoria, as is the sense of let-down that follows the euphoria felt by drug addicts and thrill seekers when the source of pleasure is withdrawn.
Some psychologists have adopted the term “gender dysphoria” in place of “gender identity disorder (GID)” to describe the feelings of people who experience a sense that there’s a mismatch between their bodies and their genders.
English contains dozens of words that begin with dys-. The prefix denotes the meaning of bad or difficult. Most dys- words are scientific terms, many of them dealing with pathologies. A few have entered the common general vocabulary.
Here are the most commonly heard dys- words:
dysentery (noun): an often epidemic or endemic disease characterized by severe diarrhea.
dysfunctional (adjective): impaired, not functioning as it should.
dyslexia (noun): a learning disability characterized by varying difficulties in processing written language.
dyspepsia (noun): severe indigestion. Figuratively, dyspepsia, together with its adjective form dyspeptic, refers to ill humor. For example, “Then it would be dismissed as a non-issue despite the fact that invariably the dyspetic editors of The Daily Mail would turn out to be proven correct!”
dysplasia (noun): an abnormal growth or development. In dogs, hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the of the joints.
dystopian (adjective): oppressive and miserable. The word dystopia is the opposite of utopia, a word coined to represent an ideal human society. Motion pictures that show a future in which people are oppressed by an intrusive government are said to present “a dystopian vision of the future.”
dystrophy (noun): a wasting away of the body. Muscular dystrophy is a disorder characterized by progressive weakness and wasting of skeletal muscles.
Here are some less common dys- words that a few writers may find useful:
dysgenic (adjective): exerting a detrimental effect on the race, tending towards racial degeneration.
dyskinesia (noun): impaired motion.
dysmenorrhea (noun): painful menstruation.
dysphagia (noun): difficulty in swallowing.
dysphonia (noun): impairment of the voice.
dysrhythmia (noun): disordered rhythm in the brain waves.
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Source: Vocabulary

Dozen: Singular or Plural?

Referring to a recent post, a reader wants to know why I wrote, “Here are a dozen common subordinating conjunctions” and not, “Here is a dozen common subordinating conjunctions.”

Because I was referring to what I regard as twelve distinct conjunctions with different uses, I treated dozen as a plural.

Dozen is a collective noun, like committee. Collective nouns name groups of people or items. If the group is seen as identical or as acting in unison, the noun is treated as singular. If individuals in the group do not act in unison, the collective noun is treated as plural. For example:

The committee has agreed to appropriate money for new sidewalk.

The committee are in disagreement as to the importance of a new sidewalk.

The same rule applies to dozen. If dozen is regarded as a group of undifferentiated items, it takes a singular verb and singular pronouns. If dozen refers to a collection of individual persons or things, it takes a plural verb and pronouns.

On the Google Ngram Viewer, the construction “Here are a dozen” far outnumbers “Here is a dozen,” but the reverse is true in a Web search.

Although common, the singular construction “here is a dozen” is unidiomatic when it is followed by what are clearly distinct items. The construction is often used to introduce lists, as in these examples:

Here is a dozen top aquariums around the country.

Here is a dozen resources for every student.

The decision to regard dozen as singular or plural ultimately lies with the writer.

If the dozen consists of items that differ from one another in some marked way, then dozen should be regarded as plural. For example, the aquariums are all in different cities; the resources are of different kinds.


Here are a dozen top aquariums around the country.

Here are a dozen resources for every student.

The writer’s decision should be made on the basis of the noun that follows dozen and not because dozen is preceded by the indefinite article a.

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Source: Daily Tips

Form and Forum

A reader asks,
What is the difference in form and forum? Are they interchangeable? If not, what is the correct usage for each one?
Regarding etymology, the noun form derives from Latin forma, whose primary meaning is shape or configuration. One speaks of “the human form,” “a form of behavior,” “the forms of a verb,” and so forth.
Schools categorize students into forms, according to age or achievement. Certain types of behavior are considered “good form” or “bad form.” In our age of bureaucracy, we are frequently required to fill in the blanks on documents called forms.
The English noun forum derives from Latin forum, “open space where people gather.” When people gather for any purpose, they exchange opinions. In Roman cities, the Forum was a centrally located open space where people sold produce and goods and where political candidates gave speeches.
One of the meanings of forum in English is, “a place of public discussion.” On the Web, readers voice their opinions in a multitude of forums dedicated to various topics of discussion. Some of these forums boast memberships in the millions (figures from Wikipedia, “List of Internet forums”):
Gaia Online (anime) 27,554,643 members; 1,000,000 posts per day.
Bodybuilding 7,690,808 members; 108,244,009 posts per day.
Stackoverflow (programming) 2,700,000 members; 26,000,000 posts per day.
Here are some examples of form and forum in context:
Why is it considered bad form to put the [wine] bottle on the table when opening it?
Create a form to enter and view your data
What is the simplest form to use to file my taxes?
I propose establishing a Bitcoin peer review board [that would be] a forum of knowledgeable people that understand Bitcoin…
The Court of Public Opinion (COPO) is a Worldwide Forum of Ethics.
Creighton Hosts Open Forum with Candidates for U.S. Congress

It’s difficult to see how the nouns form and forum might be confused for one another. Speakers of some regional dialects do drag out the word form in speech, but in standard English, form is a one-syllable word. Forum is made up of two syllables.
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Source: Vocabulary


A reader asks,

If a countable noun comes after any, then should it [the noun] be singular or plural?

Like the indefinite article a/an, the word any derives from a form of the Old English word for one. Primarily an adjective, it is also used as a pronoun.

As an adjective, any is most commonly followed by plural or uncountable nouns:

In questions:
Do you have any tomatoes for sale? (plural noun)
Baa, baa Black Sheep, have you any wool? (uncountable noun)

In negative statements:
I don’t have any books by that author. (plural noun)
The lion didn’t have any courage. (uncountable noun)

In conditional statements:
If your final draft contains any errors, it will be rejected. (plural noun)
If you need any help with the proofing, let me know. (uncountable noun)

Sometimes any is used to modify a singular countable noun:

Any fourth-grader should be able to read that book.

Any grammar book will have a section on relative pronouns.

In these sentences, any is used in the sense of every:

Every fourth-grader should be able to read that book.

Every grammar book will have a section on relative pronouns.

Sometimes a singular countable noun follows any in a question:

Is there any rule that says I can’t dye my hair green?

Is there any reason you slam the screen door every time you go through it?

In the above contexts, the speaker does not anticipate more than one rule or reason, if any. On the other hand, a speaker who anticipates that there could be several rules or reasons would follow any with a plural noun:

Are there any rules against further construction in this neighborhood?

Are there any reasons we shouldn’t require job applicants to submit samples of their writing?

As a pronoun, any stands for a noun that has already been expressed, or when it is followed by the preposition of:

Of all the books I have read, this one is more memorable than any.

If there are any of the pecans left after the sale, you may have them.

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Source: Daily Tips

Blood Words

Numerous scientific terms that describe the appearance or action of blood derive from the Greek word for blood: haima.
From the Greek element comes an English prefix spelled haem- in British usage and hem- in American usage.
haemoglobin / hemoglobin
An iron-containing protein pigment occurring in the red blood cells of vertebrates. The protein is composed of heme and globin commonly in a ratio of four molecules of heme to one of globin.
Note: Heme is a deep red iron-containing pigment. The British spelling of heme is haem. Both spellings are pronounced the same: /HEEM/.
haematite / hematite
A type of iron ore that is red, reddish-brown, or blackish with a red streak (like blood).
haemorrhage / hemorrhage
An escape of blood from the blood vessels; a flux of blood, either external or internal, due to rupture of a vessel; bleeding, especially when profuse or dangerous. Hemorrhage is also used as a verb.
haematology / hematology
A branch of biology that deals with the blood and blood-forming organs.
haematoma / hematoma
A tumor or swelling containing blood.
A mass of dilated veins in swollen tissue at the margin of the anus or nearby. Literally, “flowing with blood.”
haemophilia / hemophilia
A constitutional (usually hereditary) tendency to bleeding, either spontaneously or from very slight injuries. Hemophilia is sometimes called “the Royal Disease” because Queen Victoria and her daughters were carriers and passed it on to several European royal families, notably the Romanovs. Although the word hemophilia is a compound of the Greek words for blood and love, the German physician who coined the word was probably thinking of philia in the sense “a tendency to” rather than “a love of.”
haemophobia / hemophobia
Fear or horror at the sight of blood. Martin Ellingham in the PBS series Doc Martin suffers from haemophobia. (I spelled it that way because he’s British.)
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Source: Vocabulary


A reader objects to the expanding use of the noun gig beyond the meaning it has for musicians:
I have received an invitation to attend a ‘revegetation gig’ at a local riverside park in Brisbane Australia. I know that music bands play at ‘gigs’, but to use ‘gig’ to mean a getting together of people for any communal effort, seems pretty sloppy to me. Where does that ‘gig’ come from anyway?
The word gig, as both noun and verb, has a long history in English. Its etymology in any of its applications is unknown.
In the 15th century, a gig was a child’s spinning toy. In the 18th century, a gig was a light one-horse carriage. When I was a child, I heard fishermen speak of gigs used to spear frogs and fish. Not until I went to college did I learn about the musical type of gig.
Some definitions stress that a gig is of short duration:
gig (noun): An engagement for a musician or musicians playing jazz, dance-music, etc. Specifically, a ‘one-night stand.’–OED
gig (noun): A single professional engagement, usually of short duration, as of jazz or rock musicians. –Dictionary.com
Here are examples of this use of gig:
One of the biggest bands in the world, the Foo Fighters, are set to play two massive gigs in Australia and New Zealand to raise money for the victims of the floods and the earthquake.
Welcome to the wonderful world of professional church and temple gigs in NYC.
Gig to mean any kind of job is documented in the OED as early as 1964 in a citation that refers to a man (presumably a musician) who has to work “a mail-handler gig at the Post Office” to supplement his income.
Nowadays, any kind of job–of long or short duration–is referred to as a gig:
I quit that cushy job, sold my sports car, and hitchhiked to Louisiana, where I landed a spiritual gig working tugs and barges from Galveston, Texas thru Venice, Louisiana. The Green Rolling Hills, ed. V. J. Banis, Wildside Press, 2008.
A college professor who lost his [tenured] job over anti-Semitic tweets is angry about losing the gig, but not sorry about his Twitter missives.
Former Windows boss lands teaching gig at Harvard
This housekeeping gig isn’t so bad. I get continental breakfasts every day and discount hotel rooms.
Had my first big catering gig for 150 people Saturday afternoon.
Gig is also used in the sense of session or appointment:
The all-night study gig: a rite of passage
Olympic women’s hockey goalie scores practice gig with Edmonton Oilers
Batting-practice gig with Bonds a dream
Musicians may have introduced it into the language, but gig has caught on in colloquial speech as a useful word for everyone.
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Source: Vocabulary


This word from the Greek referred originally to the ease and comfort felt by people who enjoy good health. The Greek elements are eu (well) and pherein (to bear/carry). Etymologically, euphoria is a feeling of well-being.
The earliest use of euphoria in English (1684) is as a medical term. The right medicine could produce a feeling of euphoria in a sick person (i.e., make a sick person feel well).
The adjective, introduced in 1888, is euphoric:
euphoric: characterized by a feeling of well-being, cheerful; also, producing or causing cheerfulness.
In modern usage, euphoria refers to a heightened feeling of well-being, such as the phenomenon referred to as “runner’s high”:
runner’s high  (noun): a feeling of well-being or euphoria resulting from physical exercise, especially running.
M-W Online defines euphoria as: “a feeling of well-being or elation; especially one that is groundless, disproportionate to its cause, or inappropriate to one’s life situation.”
Here are some examples of usage from the Web:
The few truly euphoric moments I’ve experienced as a Steelers fan
The [prayer-induced] experience lasted probably only a second or two, but after it left my body I was left with this euphoria. Almost feeling like I was floating.
At 2:49 p.m. on Monday, city native George Lobaton experienced the euphoria of crossing the finish line of the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon.
What is it like to finish a novel? The first time you do it, you feel utter euphoria, and you should. 
For [Ebola] survivors, the euphoria of having beaten the disease is soon followed by the battle to live with the stigma.
[Volunteers helping the homeless] experience the euphoria that comes from doing something good for someone who can’t help you in return.
Euphoria doesn’t last. The verbs commonly used to indicate its passing or dissolution are dissipate, evaporate, wear off, die down, and fade:
Now that the euphoria has worn off the cold hard facts remain.
But now the euphoria has subsided and the market [has undergone] a painful correction. 
But now the euphoria has faded — partly no doubt because Spain is settling down to normal democratic apathy 
Now the euphoria has died down, it’s back to business as usual.
Unfortunately, that euphoria typically dissipates when companies realize that the cloud technology they’ve invested in isn’t as easy or reliable as they thought it would be.
But little remains of the euphoria from those winter days when the beginning of a new era seemed to be dawning in Ukraine. That euphoria, however, has evaporated.
Here are some other nouns to name feelings of happiness and well-being:
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Source: Vocabulary


A reader has requested a discussion of the word redact:
Your article on degrade…reminded me of redact, a verb whose meaning is shifting because the usual context in which it is used nowadays is when a document is partially censored or has portions elided. Perhaps you would like to do an article on redact.
The current use of redact to mean “elide or delete” is not so much a shifting of meaning as the development of a narrowed meaning that exists in addition to other established meanings.
The earliest OED citations of redact (1475) show it used in the sense of “to combine”:
Romulus redacte alle the cites in to oon.
[Romulus redacted all the cities into one.]
The Romanes didde redresse and redacte these lawes of Salon in to x tables.
[The Romans did redress (reform) and redact these laws of Solon into ten tables.]
The sense of redact to mean, “to combine ideas and writings,” developed to mean, “to prepare a text for publication.”
The noun redaction (something that has been edited for publication) is first recorded in the 18th century.
Both redact and redaction continue to be used to refer to the act of editing in the sense that editing includes collecting, organizing, and deleting portions of texts that are being readied for publication.
A special branch of biblical study is called “redaction criticism.” It concerns itself with the motives of the people who compiled, edited, and organized texts into their existing state.
When government censors are called upon to redact soldiers’ letters during wartime, or to prepare classified documents for public release, the only aspect of editing that concerns them is deletion. A document “redacted” by a censor may have words and whole paragraphs blacked out. For that reason, the words redact and redaction have come to be synonymous with delete and censorship in the minds of many speakers.
Not all dictionaries have caught up with this use of redact. The paid versions of M-W and OED that I use do not recognize the new usage.
The free M-W Online, on the other hand, offers these definitions:
1. to put in writing
2. to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release
3. to obscure or remove (text) from a document prior to publication or release
In addition to their use to refer to the censoring of sensitive documents, redact and redaction have become computer terms:
The technique of Blacking out parts of screenshots and other images is called Redaction. Being able to blackout, or redact, parts of an image is easily done with the Preview App that is always shipped out on all Mac computers.
Click and hold your mouse down at one end of the text you want to black out (redact).
Context should provide the necessary clue to how redact and redaction are being used. For example:
As Professor Chauvin remarks in an Appendix to that work, the Persian redaction of this tale was made in modern times.
The Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board voted to redact pages from its textbooks tied to abortion and reproduction.
The [Carolingian] writer of these notes had plans to redact them into a set text, but never really got to do so.
The only caveat I would offer regarding the use of redact in the sense of obliterate is to avoid the tautology “redact out”:
If I scan a page and want to go in and redact out 10 blemishes, I have to keep going to the menu to select “mark for redaction” each time.
Please redact out references to social security numbers and birth date on transcript copies.
Redact is a transitive verb:
I want to go in and redact 10 blemishes.
Please redact references to social security numbers.
No out needed.
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Source: Vocabulary

Malarkey Doesn’t Mean That

In a recent television ad for a cell phone service, potential customers are shown as being afraid of “hidden fees,” “funny business,” and “bamboozling.” The agent asks, “What is bamboozling?” A potential customer says, “It’s like malarkey.”
The ad bothers me because bamboozling is a gerund and malarkey is an ordinary noun. I’d prefer something like this:
Agent: What is bamboozling?
Customer: It’s trying to trick us by feeding us a bunch of malarkey.
But then, I suppose the extra words would drive up the price of the ad.
The verb bamboozle is noted in English as early as 1700, in a Tatler article complaining about the invasion of slang terms. The OED definition of the verb bamboozle is “to deceive by trickery; to perplex or confuse.”
The definition in Merriam-Webster is, “to conceal one’s true motives from someone, especially by elaborately feigning good intentions so as to gain an end or achieve an advantage.”
The first OED citation for malarkey is 1924; the most recent, 2000. It’s defined as “humbug, bunkum, nonsense.”
Malarkey is any idea or utterance seen as “trivial, misleading, or not worthy of consideration.” M-W defines malarkey as “insincere or pretentious talk or writing designed to impress one and usually to distract attention from ulterior motives or actual conditions.”
A person intent on bamboozling someone might employ malarkey in the effort to deceive, but bamboozling and malarkey are not quite synonyms.
Synonyms for the verb bamboozle:
take in
Synonyms for the noun malarkey:
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Source: Vocabulary

Business Cadence

The meanings of cadence with which I’m most familiar have to do with poetry and music.
In poetry, cadence refers to rhythmical construction. For example, “Iambic pentameter has a cadence similar to that of common English speech.”
In music and movement, cadence is the measure of rhythm. For example, “The importance of the delayed cadence in Wagner is most easily observed by looking at his use of rests.”
In speaking, cadence is the rise and fall of the voice. For example, “What can be done to improve the cadence of a student [whose speech] sounds very choppy?”
Because rhythm is important to bodily movement, the word cadence has a clear application to sports. In horseback riding, cadence is “is the equal measure or proportion which a horse observes in all his motions when he is thoroughly managed.” In cycling, cadence refers to the speed with which the rider turns the pedals.
Now for a look at the use of the word in the context of business:
Cadence is what gives a team a feeling of demarcation, progression, resolution or flow. A pattern which allows the team to know what they are doing and when it will be done.
The purpose of a cadence is to establish a reliable and dependable capability which demonstrates a predictable capacity. Cadence gives some confidence in the upcoming work when we are triggering rather than scheduling work
[A certain business consultant] worked with our team to ensure a weekly cadence of accountability was established and effectively in place.
As this new use of cadence has not yet made its way into either OED or M-W, I can only guess what it means in these examples. I think it has something to do with making a timetable or a checklist to keep a project or service on track. Perhaps it’s a synonym for organization or routine.
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Source: Vocabulary

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