J is for…


Dear readers, welcome to the tenth letter of my Vocabulary Series! I don’t know what it is about the letter J, but so many of its words roll off the tongue beautifully and they have fantastic meanings to boot!

Today, I have three awesome words to share with you, so let’s get started. The first word I’ve chosen is a great action word, though you probably wouldn’t want to be the one being acted upon!

Jettison (verb and noun)

Etymology:  First appears in 1848. The word was restored from the Middle English word, jetteson, meaning the act of throwing overboard, by Marine Insurance writers. Jetteson comes from the Anglo-French word getteson, which in turn comes from the Late Latin iactionem, meaning the act of throwing, which came from the past participle stem iectare, meaning to toss about.

Definition (verb):  To throw or drop something (usually heavy material) from a ship, aircraft, spacecraft, etc.; to abandon or discard something that is no longer wanted.

Definition (noun):  The act of jettisoning, often used as a modifier (the jettison button).

Example (verb):  Ripley sighed as she surveyed the carnage. She was so sure she’d jettisoned the alien in the last movie.


This next word is one of my favourite words of all time. It’s tons of fun to say and it has a wonderful, practical meaning, so I’m sure you can find lots of good places to use it.

Juxtapose (verb)

Etymology:  First appears in 1851. Comes from the French word juxtaposer, which is first seen in 1835 and was formed by combining the Latin word iuxta, meaning beside or near, with the French word poser, meaning to put or place.

Definition:  To place things side by side, usually to demonstrate or highlight a contrast.

Example:  The vile alien emerging from the water behind her nicely juxtaposed Newt’s innocence.


And now for this week’s bonus word. Given that tomorrow marks the beginning of October, and the countdown to my favourite holiday ever, I wanted to share this fun Halloween word with you:

Jack-o-lantern (noun)

Etymology:  First appears in the 1600s as a local name for a will-o-the-wisp (which comes from the Latin ignis fatuus, which literally means foolish fire) in East Anglia and southwestern England. The modern meaning was linked to carved pumpkins later on, in American English, which is verified in records from 1834.

Definition:  A lantern made from a hollowed-out pumpkin (or turnip) carved to represent a face; another name for a will-o-the-wisp.

Example:  The alien queen set the jack-o-lantern on her front steps; she couldn’t believe how easy it was going to be to feed her babies on this planet.


Once again, etymological information and definitions come from the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online and the Online Etymology Dictionary.


Image credit:  Google Images

Pronoun Pandemonium: Part 2


Welcome to the second half of everything you need to know about pronouns!

Last time, we looked at what pronouns do, as well as their four properties (case, number, gender, and person). Today we’re going to talk about the six classes of pronouns, which are as follows: personal, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, indefinite and adjective.

Personal pronouns are used to refer to a particular person or thing, and include: I. me, you, he, him, she, her, it, we, us, they and them. Most of us know these and use them intuitively.

  • I saw a UFO; you heard a strange noise; she was an alien; we ran away in fear.
  • Give me your camera so I can take a picture of their spaceship.

Demonstrative pronouns are used to directly indicate the thing to which they refer. If singular, we use this and that; if plural, we use these and those. For example:

  • This alien comes in peace.
  • Those aliens do not.

As you may have guessed, an interrogative pronoun asks a question about a person or thing. There are three interrogative pronouns and they are: who, what, and which. (Who is a bit special because it has three forms—who, whom, and whose. Check out this post for more information on who vs. whom.)

When talking about a person, you can use who or which. Who is universal, as it can refer to anyone. Which, on the other hand, is limited. It refers to a specific person in a group. Check out these examples:

  • Who left all this weird acidic goo lying around?
  • Which member of the crew do you think will die first?

A relative pronoun presents a dependent clause and connects it to its independent clause. Relative pronouns include: who, which, what, and that. When used as a relative pronoun, who typically indicates a person; which indicates an animal or thing,; what indicates a nonliving thing; and that can indicate a person, animal, or thing.

  • How do we remove the thing that is stuck to his face?
  • The thing, which is called a face-hugger, cannot be removed safely.

An indefinite pronoun indicates something that has either been identified or something that doesn’t require identification. Indefinite pronouns include words such as any, both, each, neither, none, one, everybody, nobody, and someone.

  • Someone toss Ripley a flamethrower.

Pronouns that function as modifiers are known as adjective pronouns. An adjectival pronoun tells us something about the noun that it modifies. All pronouns, except non-possessive personal pronouns and the pronouns who and none, can act as adjective. For example:

  • Some aliens are actually nice. This type of alien is not.


Image credit: H.R. Giger’s alien / deviantART