July 9, 2012
What is the difference between a ‘snoopy’ and a ‘nosey’ person? (D. Madhusudhan, Bangalore)If you like your privacy, both are best avoided! Both pry into other people's affairs, and a...
July 5, 2012
Gone are the days of “jolly good parties with smashing chaps”, so too afternoon tea which has been replaced by its cousin across the pond — coffee — even as teens prefer “cool dudes” and “awesome...
July 1, 2012
From ‘fit aayi’, to ‘tight aanu’ and ‘sight adichu’, Malayalis have tweaked the Queen’s language to suit their unique ‘style’
June 11, 2012
What is the difference between ‘frugal' and ‘stingy'?
(M. Satish, Pune)
Both words tell us something about the manner in which a person spends his money. Of the two, ‘stin...
May 14, 2012
Why do some people refer to sweets as ‘sweetmeat'?
(D. Vrinda, Coimbatore)
The word ‘sweetmeat' is considered to be old fashioned; some dictionaries label it as being ‘arc...
April 16, 2012
What is the meaning and origin of ‘born in the purple'?
(S. Patel, Mysore)
This is an expression that has been around for several centuries now. It was originally used to...
April 10, 2012
Does one become ‘weary of something' or ‘weary with something'?(C. Gayathri, Chennai)In everyday conversation, we mostly hear people say that they are ‘weary of something or someone'....
April 3, 2012
What is the meaning of ‘tinderbox situation'? (M. Naushad Ismail, Madurai)The word ‘tinder' is normally used to refer to any material, like dry grass, wood, straw, etc. that can be us...
March 5, 2012
How is the word ‘rapporteur' pronounced?
(B. Sandhya, Chennai)
The ‘a' in the first syllable sounds like the ‘a' in ‘cat', ‘bat', and ‘fat'; the second syllable sounds lik...
February 7, 2012
What is the meaning and origin of ‘play it by ear'?
(B. Suresh Kumar, Coimbatore)
There are occasions when we do not plan too far ahead; in such cases, our response to a s...
July 5, 2012
‘Signs and symbols, part of non-verbal communication, need scrutiny’
July 2, 2012
What is the meaning and origin of ‘talk nineteen to the dozen’?
(R. Shakunthala, Chennai)
We have all come across people who can speak non-stop at a very fast pace....
June 25, 2012
What is the difference between ‘appraise’ and ‘apprise’?
(Mani Natarajan, Chennai) The first vowel in both words is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The second syllable in ‘appra...
May 21, 2012
What is the difference between ‘imminent' and ‘eminent'?
(S. Nandini, Salem)
An ‘eminent' person is a well-known person. He is a giant in his field, and towers over everyo...
May 8, 2012
Sometimes the hair at the back of the head refuses to lie flat. It stands up. Is there a word for this?
You are thinking of the main character i...
April 15, 2012
If Shakespeare were to live now, he would perhaps add one more piece of work to his dramatic oeuvre by introducing the English found in the NET.
April 6, 2012
The Chennai Corporation, which introduced English medium sections in class I in 70 schools, is set to add 30 more sections
March 12, 2012
“Well, this is a pleasant surprise! Haven't seen you in a while. What brings you over?”
“I came to ask you if you would ... You don't look too good. Something wrong?”
March 3, 2012
Please all you people out there, could you tell friend's, family member's, pet's and other denizen's who inhabit your world, that I am giving free lessons in the use of the hanging-in-the-air comma...
January 31, 2012
Why is the wife always referred to as the ‘better half'?
(V.P. Balasubramanyan, Avadi)
Many people think that this rather old fashioned expression can be use...