This is turning out to be a mammoth task!

I am planning to skip dinner and leave work early as I have had a very hearty lunch

January 09, 2023 08:30 am | Updated 08:30 am IST

Representative purposes only

Representative purposes only | Photo Credit: Getty Images

What is the difference between ‘terrorist’ and ‘extremist’? (Kamal Laddha, Bengaluru)

There is a tendency nowadays, especially among reporters, to use the two words synonymously — it is, however, wrong to do so. Careful users of the language maintain a subtle distinction between the words. A ‘terrorist’, as the word suggests, is someone who uses ‘terror’ to achieve his goal. He not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. He is someone who will not hesitate to use violence to get what he wants. he often uses it to make a political statement. The violence may be directed against his enemies or against his own people. Individuals can be labelled ‘terrorists’ and so can organisations.

The lone terrorist was shot dead by the police as she tried to detonate the bomb.

Several terrorist organisations have claimed responsibility for yesterday’s bombings.

Like a terrorist, an ‘extremist’ believes in a cause very strongly, and he does not hesitate to share his thoughts on the matter. — in fact, he is very vocal about it. He uses his ability to communicate to try and bring about political and religious changes in society. Many of his ideas are seen by most people as being unreasonable and unacceptable. Unlike a terrorist, an extremist does not always resort to violence to achieve his goals. There are a few, however, who will not hesitate to use it, if the situation demands it.

Hema has joined an extremist group that wants the freedom of the press to be banned.

Most people in his own party consider the newly elected MP to be an extremist.

How is the word ‘mammoth’ pronounced? (G. Venkateswaran, Thanjavur)

The word consists of two syllables. The vowel in the first is pronounced like the ‘a’ in ‘dam’, ‘Sam’ and ‘ham’, and the ‘o’ in the second, sounds like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The word is pronounced ‘MA-meth’ with the stress on the first syllable. It comes from the Russian ‘mamant’ meaning ‘earth’. The word was first borrowed into English to refer to the remains of the large woolly elephant whose bones were discovered in Siberia. With the passage of time, the word acquired another meaning — ‘gigantic’ or ‘extremely large’. This sense of the word ‘mammoth’ can be used with both people and things.

Installing a lift in this old house is proving to be a mammoth task.

Jai is working for one of those mammoth multinationals.

Why do we say ‘hearty meal? (K. V. Nalini, Nellore)

Most of us normally use the word ‘hearty’ when we congratulate someone. When someone gets married or does well in an exam, we normally say, ‘Hearty congratulations!’. The use of ‘hearty’ in these contexts suggests that you are being sincere and warm. The word ‘hearty’, however, has several different meanings. In the context of a meal, it means ‘large’. When you have a ‘hearty meal’, you have a large meal; you eat something in large quantities. Someone who has a ‘hearty appetite’ has a healthy appetite — he/she eats a lot.

Harish always makes it a point to have a hearty breakfast.

I think you should make some more idlis. Dileep has a very hearty appetite.

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