ITERATION [it-uh-REY-shuhn] : to say or do again; repeat


Constant repetition is something that can become irritating to some people.   When a child in the back seat of the car repeats the same question (“When are we going to get there?” or “Are we there yet?” ) it can be the cause of a near-mental-breakdown for parents. A similar thing happens with a person […]

DIFFUSE/DEFUSE: easily confused


My daughter, Bethany, spotted an article in the Times the other day in  which the way the word defuse was used caused confusion.   The author of the article was trying to say that there was an attempt to diminish the effectiveness of a rumor.  He wasn’t talking about dispatching the rumor, as in eradicating it.  […]

SOURCE: the place from which something originates


Every now and then it gets frustrating to read or listen to people who claim the “truth” based upon their having found a story on the Internet or in some other recently-created resource.   This is true in all walks of life, from politics and economics to biblical references.   It amazes me that well-meaning people believe […]

AGNOSTIC [ag-NOS-tik] : a person who denies or doubts the possibility of the existence of God


The confusion between the meanings of agnostic and atheist are sometimes confused, not only by the person reading the terms, but by the persons using the terms.  When someone embraces a position of opposing organized religion it may be more emotional than intellectual, and the person may skip several steps … including the need to […]

QUANTUM LEAP: a sudden, dramatic increase

Quantum is a word formerly reserved to the field of science and metrics.  It referred to measurement, specifically meaning that there was a huge, sudden up-tick in quantities of whatever was being measured. However, in recent years the word has been co-opted for use in more common language patterns, signifying, again, a sudden, dramatic increase […]

ALGORITHM [AL-guh-rith-uhm] : a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps

It helps to boil down the meaning of a technical word by using a common experience as an illustration. This is especially true when we are dealing with a word as complex as algorithm.  In its most complex situation, an algorithm is a formula used by scientists to replicate a highly-technical procedure.   Scientists, mathematicians, research […]