Friday, October 31, 2014



What you think it means: to feel sick or that one may vomit

What it actually means: to cause nausea

When you eat too much ice cream and then say, "Oh, I feel nauseous," you're not saying you feel sick, you are saying that you are causing people around you to feel sick.

The correct way to say you feel sick is to say, "I am nauseated."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


What You Think It Means: A fun fact of little consequence -- a bit of trivia

What It Actually Means: A fun fact that is not true! Yes, you have been using the word incorrectly all this time.

Monday, October 27, 2014


What you think it means: Very quick growth. You always hear of companies boasting about their "exponential growth."

What it actually means: An increase in the rate of growth. Something is growing exponentially when its rate of change can be described using an exponent, such as 103. So, yes, it does mean growth, but it doesn't mean quick growth, just quicker than before. So if you are experiencing incredibly slow growth, you can then have exponential growth but still be slow, depending on the rate of growth.

Monday, October 13, 2014


You probably think that the words infer and imply mean the same thing since most use the words interchangeably. Imply and infer are opposites, like a throw and a catch. To imply is to hint at something, but to infer is to make an educated guess. The speaker does the implying, and the listener does the inferring.

To imply is to suggest something indirectly. If you hand your friend a stack of napkins during dinner, you imply that she needs them. Things can imply, too, like a chimney that implies a fireplace. Check out these examples:

+ By their very definition, flea markets imply cheap prices for used and unwanted items, as is still the case in most other places. (New York Times)

+ Stern also implied the entire season might be at risk. (Seattle Times)

+ It isn't fair to imply that cardiovascular disease is going away. (Nature)

Infer is on the receiving end of imply, yet infer is often used to mean imply. To infer is to gather, deduce, or figure out.Writers tend to know how to use infer correctly:

+ He talks about having led in the private sector but voters have to infer too much about what that means. (Slate)

+ They were also better at inferring feelings from images of just the eyes. (Scientific American)

+ Yet it must not be inferred that farming women are without mental ability or common sense. (Sidney Lewis Gulick)