Vocablets of the Day: Compare and Contrast

When you put two things side by side you begin to see the similarities and the differences between the two. When you look for what is similar, you’re comparing the two. When you look for what is different, you’re contrasting.

Compare and contrast may have different meanings, but the two words are very similar in practice. If you liken two things and make a note of everything similar between them, you likely will have noted the differences as well. Because of this the words are often used together as compare and contrast. If you use one or the other it’s because you want to emphasize the similarities or differences.

Photo:  Phineas Jones on FlickrCompare and Contrast:

Octopus vs Squid


Octopi and Squid are cephalopods that live in salty water from the tropics to temperate zones. Both have blue blood and travel by sucking water up into there bodies and quickly releasing it. Both are pretty tasty!


-Octopi live in dens on the seafloor, squid live in the open ocean

-Octopi have eight arms, squid have an additional two tentacles

-Octopi are solitary creatures, squid sometimes travel in schools

If you want to learn more head over to VN and check out our Octopus vs Squid collection! http://vocabnetwork.com/featured/bl/8304/octopus-vs-squid/

Vocablets of the Day: Farther Vs. Further

Man, these two can be easy to mix up! When do you use ‘farther’ in a sentence and when do you use ‘further’? Are they interchangeable?

Farther is usually used when referring to measurable distances. For example:

-Is it much farther to the house?

-No one has made it farther than the bridge.

-The TV remote was farther than I could reach.


Further is used normally for figurative distances or general advancement. For example:

-If you complain any further I’ll guarantee you don’t make it back to the house.

-We have no further plans to attempt to cross the bridge

-I can’t watch the TV for now, but I’m further along in my book

When in doubt, ‘further’ gets you further, because there are some restrictions for ‘farther’. In fact, ‘further’ can replace ‘farther’ in all the examples above, but not the other way around.

If you want to study these further, as well as some other words that are easy to mix up, head over to:


Vocablet of the Day: Aural

Music is better when it’s loud, right?  Maybe so, but your ears might not agree.

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Before you blast your favorite tunes through your earbuds, it might be wise to think about what kind of effect that noise will have on your future relating to your sense of hearing.

It makes sense that spending a lot of time around painfully loud noises, like rock concerts or construction work, can lead to hearing loss later in life.  However, it might surprise you that something as simple as the type of headphones you use can be damaging to your aural health.

Do you try to protect your future aural ability by keeping your headphone volume low?

Study ‘aural‘!
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Vocablet of the Day: Humility

Pope Francis was elected in March of 2013, and it didn’t take long for people to realize that there was something different about him.

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Pope Francis has gone a different way from previous popes, choosing to live more simply and with the quality or state of being humble.

Pope Francis' chair, on the right, shows his humility even in his new station.

In the past, popes have lived a life of luxury that comes with the highest position in the Catholic Church.  Pope Francis, demonstrating his humility, has chosen instead to keep his clothes simple and to live in the Vatican guesthouse rather than the large papal apartment.

Do you think Pope Francis’ humility makes a statement?  What kind?

Study ‘humility‘!
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Vocablet of the Day: Selfie

It’s Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year for 2013, and if you have a smartphone or a computer with a webcam, it’s probably something you’re familiar with.

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Sometimes you need a picture of yourself — for a social media profile, to document a new hairstyle, or just because you want one — and the easiest way to make that happen is with a photograph that one has taken of oneself, usually with a smartphone or webcam.

Selfies are all the rage these days, with everyone from celebrities to politicians snapping quick pics of themselves and posting them online.  Some say that selfies are further evidence of the increasing narcissism of society brought on by social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, while others argue that people have created self-portraits for centuries, and the selfie is just a new version of that.

Do you take selfies and post them online?  What do you think of the whole selfie phenomenon?

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Vocablet of the Day: Deferential

To show respect toward a man, you can call him “sir.”  But to show the same respect to a woman, which word should you use?

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Sometimes it can be tricky to be respectful, especially when cultural norms cause mixed messages.

In the southern United States, calling a woman of any age “ma’am” is considered the polite thing to do.  In other parts of the country, however, “ma’am” is reserved for older women, and “miss” is used to be deferential towards younger women.  So when you’re trying to be polite to a woman of indeterminate age (outside of the American South), it’s probably a good idea to stick to “miss.”

What words do you use to be deferential to women where you live?

Study ‘deferential‘!
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Vocablet of the Day: Inevitable

How far would you go to face your fears?  Would you climb into a coffin?

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Even though death is incapable of being avoided or prevented, most of us would prefer not to think about it.  Some, however, take the opposite approach.

In psychological terms, it’s called immersion therapy: throw yourself into whatever scares you.  If you’re afraid of spiders, let three of them crawl over your hands.  If you’re afraid of flying, book a ticket across the Atlantic.  And if you fear the inevitable approach of death, climb into a coffin.

Does the idea of getting into a coffin freak you out?  Or do you think it might make you feel more comfortable with the fact that your own death is inevitable?

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Vocablet of the Day: Shed Light On

What makes someone intelligent?  The way scientists are trying to find out might surprise you.

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Researchers who want to know more about the nature of genius are looking to make clear or supply additional information on the subject by going to the source — the brain of one of the world’s most brilliant minds.

When Einstein died in 1955, scientists knew his brain was special, so it was dissected and preserved.  Modern-day scientists are using new knowledge and techniques to analyze the brain in their attempts to shed light on the nature of genius.

Do you think that the physical brain has an effect on intelligence?  How else could scientists shed light on this complicated subject?

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Vocablet of the Day: Fleeting

When you see a tree in bloom, what do you think about?  Springtime?  Warm weather?  Or the brief and ephemeral nature of life?

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Youth, beauty, springtime, even life itself — all of them lasting for a very short time in the grand scheme of the world.

Cherry blossoms are celebrated around the world for their incredible beauty during the brief period in spring when they bloom into gorgeous pink flowers.  In Japan, the fact that the blossoms appear for such a fleeting amount of time adds to their beauty and meaning, reminding us that nothing in life is permanent.

Have you ever seen a group of cherry trees in bloom?  What does the fleeting nature of beauty mean to you?

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Vocablet of the Day: Quantitative

How would you describe the health of the oceans?  Poor?  Worsening?  Not that bad?  73%?  If that last one is confusing, read on….

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How clean is your coastline?  Rather than rely on vague descriptions, the Ocean Health Index uses a clear-cut system based on a measurement relating to the amount or number of something rather than its quality.

Qualitative descriptions — that is, descriptions that rely on non-numerical characteristics, like color, degree, good vs bad, more vs less — are useful for some things, but they aren’t always enough.  Because numbers are concrete and easily measured, quantitative measures are often better for making direct comparisons.  The Ocean Health Index allows countries to compare their quantitative scores to those of other countries, making it easy to see which countries need improvement in how they treat their coastlines.

Can you think of another example of a quantitative measure?  When would a qualitative measure be better than a quantitative one?

Study ‘quantitative‘!
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