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      Finally, a dictionary with a soul.

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      Read thousands of example sentences from current newspapers, magazines, and literature. We show you how words live in the wild and give you usage tips so that you're more confident about using the words you learn.

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      retroactive

      The adjective retroactive refers to something happening now that affects the past. For example, a retroactive tax is one that is passed at one time, but payable back to a time before the tax was passed.

      The Latin word retroagere, an ancestor of the adjective retroactive, means "drive or turn back," and goes along with the meaning of the word. Sometimes governments pass rulings that are set as if they were in effect before the ruling was even made, and that means they are retroactive. On the bright side, you might be awarded a salary raise that is retroactive, meaning you'll get paid more for work you did in the past. And, retroactive fads in clothing keep vintage clothing stores in business.

      Choose your words

      Caught between words? Learn how to make the right choice.

      nauseated/ nauseous

      If you’re nauseated you’re about to throw up, if you’re nauseous, you’re a toxic funk and you’re going to make someone else puke. These words are used interchangeably so often that it makes word nerds feel nauseated!
      read more...

      homonym/ homophone/ homograph

      This word set can be confusing, even for word geeks. Let's start with the basics. A homograph is a word that has the same spelling as another word but has a different sound and a different meaning.
      read more...

      ambiguous/ ambivalent

      Something ambiguous is unclear or vague, like the end of a short story that leaves you scratching your head. But if you're ambivalent about something, you can take it or leave it. Whatever.
      read more...

      assume/ presume

      Assume and presume both mean to believe something before it happens, but when you assume you're not really sure. If someone bangs on your door in the middle of the night, you might assume it's your crazy neighbor. If your neighbor knocks on your door every night at 6:30, at 6:29 you can presume she's coming over in a minute. read more...

      hone/ home

      To hone is to sharpen a knife or perfect a skill. Home is where you live, where your stuff is, is where the heart is, and all that. read more...

      exalt/ exult

      To exalt, means to glorify or elevate something, but to exult is to rejoice. Exalt your favorite pro-wrestler, Jesus, or your status in the world. Exult when you get the last two tickets to see your favorite band. read more...

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