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, ‘stingy' has a negative connotation. A ‘stingy' individual is someone who has money, but is very reluctant to part with it. He is a miser; he doesn't like to spend money on himself or on others. He is reluctant to spend money on things are essential as well. Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' classic ‘A Christmas Carol' was a stingy person. A ‘frugal' person, on the other hand, is someone who is very careful in the way he handles money; he ensures that he does not waste any of it. The word comes from the Latin ‘frux' meaning ‘fruit' or ‘produce'. A ‘frugal' individual ensures that the fruits of his labour don't go to waste, but unlike a stingy person, he is willing to spend on things that are necessary. Frugal is a much more positive word than ‘stingy'. The word can also be used with food and clothes. When you say that you had a ‘frugal lunch', it means you had a simple lunch.

*Abhay was too stingy to tip the waiter.

*Ganeshan has never been known to be frugal with his money.

How is the word ‘lacuna' pronounced?

(Javed, Hyderabad)

The ‘a' in the first and last syllables are pronounced like the ‘a' in ‘china', while the ‘cu' in the second sounds like the word ‘cue'. The word is pronounced ‘le-KYUU-ne' with the stress on the second syllable. It is also possible to pronounce the first ‘a' like the ‘a' in ‘cat' and ‘bat'. The plural is ‘lacunae'; in this case, the final ‘ae' is pronounced like the word ‘knee'. The word comes from the Latin ‘lacuna' meaning ‘hole' or ‘pit'. In English, the word is mostly used in formal contexts to mean ‘empty space' or ‘gap'. Lacuna is mostly used when talking about the missing pages in a manuscript or the missing part of a book. Nowadays, in everyday contexts, it is used to mean ‘deficiency'.

*The evident lacuna in Jeevan's story made the police very suspicious.

What is the meaning of ‘drama queen'?

(G. Harini, Hyderabad)

During the recently concluded French Open Championship, Virginia Wade called Andy Murray a ‘drama queen'. The expression is mostly used in informal contexts to refer to people who act overly dramatic in situations. These individuals make a mountain out of a molehill. They get very upset and angry about very minor problems; they believe their problems are huge. A drama queen can be a man or a woman. The expression is mostly used to show disapproval.

*Juhi made such a fuss when the waiter spilled some water on her. I didn't know she was such a drama queen.

What is the meaning and origin of ‘cut a caper'?

(L. Shalini, Madurai)

A ‘caper' is a lively skip or hop. ‘Cut a caper' literally means to leap about or dance about in a playful manner. Nowadays, the expression is mainly used to mean a ‘lively' or ‘playful' leap. Shakespeare coined this expression in Twelfth Night. The word ‘caper' rhymes with ‘paper'.

*When he heard that he had been promoted, Bala cut a little caper before walking into the boss' room.

The expression can also be used to mean to play a trick on someone.

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“I speak twelve languages. English is the bestest.”Stephen Bergman

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