Similes and metaphors by Angela Caldin

What’s the difference? Both similes and metaphors are used to make writing more interesting by using striking comparisons. The difference between them comes down to two words. Similes use the words like or as to compare things: The thunder sounded like several fireworks going off at once. In contrast, metaphors directly state a comparison, as in Katy Perry’s song: Baby, you’re a firework! Here are some other examples of similes and metaphors: Life is like a box of chocolates. (Simile) My life is an open book. (Metaphor) The dancer’s hands fluttered like… Read More

Words sometimes confused: incredible and incredulous by Angela Caldin

Incredible means that something is difficult to believe whereas incredulous means that someone is unwilling or unable to believe. So something that seems unbelievable or implausible is incredible, but if you have trouble believing something, you are incredulous. The word incredible is often overused to describe something astounding. It applies to an unbelievable situation, while incredulous applies to an unbelieving person rather than a situation. They paused for a few minutes to admire the incredible sunset, fiery red and brilliant orange against the darkening sky. Maradona was an amazing footballer with fantastic… Read More

Angela’s ABCs flout and flaunt words sometimes confused

It seemed to me that flout and flaunt were sufficiently different for it to be difficult to confuse them. I thought their meanings were clear. If you don’t comply with a rule, you are flouting it. If you make a big display of your success, you are flaunting it It seems that I was wrong. I was tut-tutting to myself the other day because I noticed that one of The Guardian’s coronavirus update writers had used flaunt to mean flout. Nobody seemed particularly bothered. When I did some research, I realised this… Read More

Words sometimes confused: continuous and continual by Angela Caldin

I know that there is a difference between continuous and continual and I remember being taught about it at school. But sometimes I forget what the difference is. So I’m explaining it for my benefit and for the benefit of anyone else who might like to know that they are not synonyms. Continuous indicates that something goes on without interruption, whereas continual indicates that something goes on over a period of time, but with intervals of interruption. The continuous noise of machinery from the next door factory began to affect her health…. Read More

Angela’s ABCs: meretricious and meritorious by Angela Caldin

There are various words in the English language whose meanings I only half understand, like paradigm or leverage or egregious. There’s also a word whose meaning I thought I understood, but having looked it up, I discover I had misunderstood it completely. That word is meretricious. I had vaguely thought it had something to do with merit and that it described something good, but in fact if you describe something as meretricious, you disapprove of it because although it appears attractive it actually has little value or integrity.  It’s used to suggest… Read More