What is the meaning of ‘carefrontation’?

(Maria Joe, Hindupur)

This relatively new word is a combination of ‘care’ and ‘confrontation’. In a ‘carefrontation’, a group of people sit down with a friend who has a problem — it could be anything: depression, drinking, drugs, becoming violent with members of the family, etc. This group of close-knit people discuss with their friend his problem, and try to provide solutions. The attempt here is to create an environment where the friend feels comfortable talking about his problem. The individual confronts his problem in the company of those who genuinely care about him.

*Madhu seems doped most of the time. I think it’s time for a carefrontation.

How is the word ‘déjà vu’ pronounced?

(T.S. Sandeep, Delhi)

The ‘de’ is pronounced like the word ‘day’ and the following ‘j’ is like the ‘s’ in ‘treasure’, ‘measure’, and ‘pleasure’. The ‘a’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘ask’ and ‘task’ and the ‘u’ in ‘vu’ is like the ‘oo’ in ‘fool’, ‘pool’, and ‘cool’. The word is pronounced ‘day-za VOO’ with the main stress on the second word.

‘Deja’ means ‘already’ and ‘vu’ means ‘seen’; this French expression literally means ‘already seen’.

Sometimes, when we visit a new place, we have a feeling that we have already been there before.

There may be occasions when we are having a conversation with someone, we get the feeling we have had the same conversation before. This odd feeling we have that the visit or the conversation has taken place before is called ‘déjà vu’.

Of late, the expression has acquired a negative connotation; it is used to mean disagreeably familiar or ‘same old, same old’.

*As Vinita entered her friend’s new house, she had a sense of deja vu.

*It’s the same old plot with the same bunch of boring characters — no wonder the audience walked out with a sense of deja vu.

What is the meaning and origin of ‘tooth and nail’?

(Mythili, Trichy)

The expression has been a part of the English language since the 16th century. When you fight someone ‘tooth and nail’, you fight in a determined manner; you do everything in your power to defeat him. You may have no weapons, but you are willing to scratch the opponent with your nails and bite him, if need be. You will give everything you have got, and will not rest till your objective has been achieved. It is also possible to say ‘to fight tooth and claw’.

*The students fought tooth and nail to get the rule changed.

Scholars believe the expression comes from the Latin phrase ‘toto corpore atque omnibus ungulis’ meaning ‘with all the body and every nail’.

What is the difference between ‘regrettably’ and ‘regretfully’?

(D. Seetha, Nellore)

Both words are derived form the verb ‘regret’. ‘Regretfully’ means full of regret; the person is sad about what he is doing or what he is about to do. For example, if you say, ‘Salman regretfully turned down our offer’, it suggests that Salman felt unhappy that he was turning you down. ‘Regrettably’, on the other hand, means ‘unfortunately’. ‘Regrettably, Salman turned down our offer’ suggests that in this case, it is you who are sad and not Salman.


“Promises and pie crusts are meant to be broken.”Jonathan Swift