credible, creditable, credulous

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS If you want your newspaper to stay creditable in an election campaign, you’re expecting a lot. Creditable means deserving of praise. Who feels like praising a newspaper in the heat of an election campaign? Credible, however, means worthy of belief, and that’s enough to make a newspaper a force in any election. […]

Read More

voyeur, voyageur

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS A voyeur is a peeping tom, a person who derives satisfaction from secretly watching others, especially when they are doing something that is nobody else’s business. A voyageur is a traveler. In Canada, he is a woodsman or boatman who takes supplies from trading posts to trappers in the backwoods, and returns […]

Read More

custom, habit

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS A custom is a social convention, whether that be a style of dress or an established way of behavior typical of a social group or a country or a particular period of time. While a custom is followed by a whole group, a habit is acquired by an individual, whether voluntarily or […]

Read More

want, wish

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS Want and wish both suggest a longing for something, although want often suggests a stronger sense of immediacy and wish connotes a more remote feeling. Ask any figure-conscious person who wishes to stay thin, but still wants the chocolate that’s been offered.

Read More

arbiter, arbitrator, mediator

  By DICK CAVELLI The three titles are often used interchangeably by the media, but there are clear differences among them. The arbiter, for example, is a chosen or appointed judge or umpire; an absolute and final judge. An arbitrator is a person chosen by agreement of parties to decide a dispute between them, and […]

Read More

peak, peek, pique

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS A peak is a high point. For a dog, it could be a pat on the head or a steak bone after dinner. In Shakespeare’s time, peak could also mean to waste away, as in “Macbeth:” …dwindle, peak and pine. A peek is a brief or furtive look, a look like one […]

Read More

abbreviate, abridge

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS To abbreviate a thing is to reduce it or make it smaller, as a word might be shortened by leaving letters out, so that the whole thing can still be recognized in the smaller version. To abridge a thing is to reduce or condense it, as a report might be expressed in […]

Read More

imperial, imperious

By LAWRENCE FELLOWS An imperial person is an emperor or an empress, or behaves like one. Imperious means dictatorial, domineering, bossy. You don’t have to be an emperor to have an imperial manner. Neither do you have to be an emperor to be imperious, but sometimes it helps.

Read More