Misbelief and disbelief

Kevin was in disbelief. How could his parents leave without him?

Kevin was in disbelief. How could his parents leave without him?

disbelief: mental rejection of something as untrue
misbelief: erroneous or false belief

To keep these two words straight, consider this: Misbelief is when something is untrue. Disbelief is when you think something is untrue (regardless of whether it is). Disbelief tends to deal with thoughts and opinions. Misbelief deals with facts.

Ralph was in complete disbelief. He didn’t think Suzie could have stolen the lollipop.
It is a misbelief that George has three toes. He only has two.

It is a misbelief that the religion’s followers have to surgically attach octopus tentacles to their necks.
The leader stood in disbelief when he heard the rumor. “People believe that?” he asked.

Fill in the blanks with either disbelief or misbelief. The answers are at the bottom.

1. No one thought Percy would finally propose. They were in _______ when Frank showed the ring on his finger.
2. You can believe a _______, but it will still be untrue.
3. When the kids explained that a dragon broke the antique lamp, their parents met the tale with _______.
4. It is a common _______ that Paul only eats sauerkraut after midnight. He usually eats it at seven p.m.



1. disbelief 2. misbelief 3. disbelief 4. misbelief

Team vs. teem


team (noun): a number of persons associated together in work or activity
teem (verb): to become filled to overflowing

You are, no doubt, familiar with the noun team, but the same-sounding verb is less popular. Today’s post will help you use and spell it correctly.

Here are examples of both words:
The zombies worked as a team to capture the humans.
The city is teeming with zombies.

The zombies’ deadened brains teemed with thoughts of carnage.
The team of humans couldn’t fight back the zombies.

Both words are related to the Old English word team, which means “offspring, lineage, group of draft animals.” Interestingly, an archaic usage of teem is to “give birth to,” a usage that seems more aligned with its Old English origin.

Fill in the blanks with either team or teem.

1. The golf course is _______ing with tees.
2. The baseball history museum _______s with photos of old _______s.
3. My favorite baseball _______ is the Minnesota Twins.
4. The wrestler’s heart _______ed with thoughts of winning the match.


1) teem 2) teem; team 3) team 4) teem

Difference Between Synonym and Antonym

Today’s post is about synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms are words that have the same meaning. Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings.

Here are synonyms for the word happy: cheerful, delighted, ecstatic, glad, jolly.
Here are antonyms for the word happy: sad, depressed, morose, miserable.

Note that in the first list, all of the words have the same meaning as happy. In the second list, all the words have the opposite meaning as happy.

If a word is a synonym, we can plug it into a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. Let’s remove the word happy from the sentence below and replace it with glad.

Sentence 1: Fritz was happy that he ate three hot dogs.
Sentence 2: Fritz was glad that he ate three hot dogs.

Sentence 2 has the same meaning as sentence 1 because we replaced happy with its synonym glad.

Now let’s remove the word happy and replace it with its antonym depressed.

Sentence 1: Fritz was happy that he ate three hot dogs.
Sentence 2: Fritz was depressed that he ate three hot dogs.

This time, sentence 2 has the opposite meaning as sentence 1 because we replaced happy with an antonym.

A trick to remembering the definitions of synonym and antonym is this: Synonym means same. And both words start with the letter S. So think synonym = same. Then you’ll remember automatically that antonym is the opposite.

Below are lists of words. Decide if each is a list of synonyms or antonyms.

1. sick: diseased, ill, unwell, queasy, unhealthy, ailing
2. teach: explain, demonstrate, instruct, train, tutor, show
3. hungry: full, satisfied, stuffed, satiated
4: finish: start, commence, begin, initiate
5: smart: astute, brainy, clever, wise, bright

Answers: 1) synonyms 2) synonyms 3) antonyms 4) antonyms 5) synonyms

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of book editing, author coaching, and social media packages.

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Principal vs. principle

principal: most important, consequential, or influential
principle: a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption

I still remember one of my elementary school teachers teaching me this tip to remember the correct endings of these two words. She’d say, “The principal is your pal.” While this may have painted an overly rosy view of people who hold the “most important, consequential, or influential” positions within schools (I’m looking at you, Mr. Saxton), it worked.

Example: Mr. Saxton was a really mean principal. He was so not my pal.

However, principal doesn’t have to refer to a person who has that as a title. It can refer to just about anything that has been given the most important, consequential, or influential role.

Example: Chocolate is the principal ingredient in the dessert.
Example: The principal thought to take away from the lesson is: cat videos are funny.

Note that in the first example sentence, principal is a noun. Meanwhile, in the last two sentences, principal is an adjective. Principal can be both a noun and an adjective. However, principle can only be a noun.

Here are some examples of principle:

Example: Ralph had a set of strict principles he used to guide his actions.
Example: It took Steve years to learn the top two principles of being a good step-father: grow a mustache and buy lots of presents.

Test your knowledge with this quiz. Fill in either principal or principle in the blanks. The answers are below.

1. The _______ reason Paula broke up with Paul is because his armpits smelled.
2. After reading the handbook, Lawrence knew the _______ that governed his workplace.
3. Martha misbehaved in class, so she had to meet with the school’s _______.
4. Liz found the religion’s _______ to be flawed, so she stopped going to church.
5. The _______ weapon in their arsenal failed, and the enemy was able to enter their territory.


1. principal 2. principle 3. principal 4. principle 5. principal


What decimate really means

If you are reading this from your underground doomsday bunker, I thank you for taking the time from your end-of-the-world preparations to read my humble blog. Yes, today is the day some people decided the ancient Mayans predicted would be the end of the world. So, in the spirit of all things apocalyptic, I thought we should talk about epic disasters—more specifically, the word decimate.

What do you think when you hear the word decimate? Bridge-swallowing earthquakes? Nuclear wastelands? Robot overlords?

Decimate has come to mean near-total destruction, but that’s not the technical definition of the word. Decimate comes from the Latin word decem, which means ten. Thus, decimate means to reduce something by a tenth. Merriam-Webster lists the first definition of decimate as: “to select by lot and kill every tenth man of.”

Destroying a tenth of something is still some serious carnage, but I doubt it matches the type of destruction most people now identify with the word. However, that’s okay. The meaning has changed over time, where it now can mean anything from a storm knocking down every tenth tree to robot overlords exterminating all of humankind.

And just in case this is my last post, I’ll leave you with this—an introduction to your new leaders. Good luck in the apocalypse, suckers.