Word Fact: What Is the Difference Between i.e. and e.g.?


They may be small, but their power to befuddle writers and speakers of the English language is mighty: what’s the difference between i.e. and e.g.? And what are the correct uses of these commonly confused abbreviations?

The term i.e. is a shortening of the Latin expression id est, which translates to “that is.” It is used to introduce a rephrasing or elaboration on something that has already been stated: “I like citrus fruits, i.e., the juicy, edible fruits with leathery, aromatic rinds of any of numerous tropical, usually thorny shrubs or trees of the genus Citrus.” In this example, i.e. introduces an elaboration on citrus fruits.

The term e.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin expression exempli gratia, meaning “for the sake of example” or more colloquially, “for example.” It follows that this term is used to introduce examples of something that has already been stated: “I like citrus fruits, e.g., oranges, lemons, and limes.”

One easy way to remember the difference between these two is by employing a simple mnemonic device: think of the i at the beginning of i.e. as standing for the first word in the phrase “in other words,” indicating that the clause that follows will rephrase or explain what precedes the term.  E.g. is a little more straightforward since e stands for exempli meaning “example.” To ensure your mastery over these terms is not tarnished by misplaced punctuation, remember that in formal writing, e.g. and i.e. are often set off in parentheses and followed by a comma; in less formal writing, it is standard to place a comma before and after these terms.

News & Notes: Welcome to Our New Redesign!


We’re excited to announce the most significant redesign of our definition pages in Dictionary.com’s 19-year history. To help you find what you need quickly and easily, we’ve streamlined the pages and elevated the word features you love. We’ve also introduced exciting new items that bring words to life in innovative ways. Here’s a look at what’s new:

  • For deeper comprehension of the terms you’re looking up, we’ve moved features that provide context and usage information to more prominent placements on the page: example sentences now show up below the definitions that they illustrate, and the new navigation bar beneath your headword allows easy access to synonyms, example sentences, and word origin.
  • To make it easier to save, share, cite, and translate the words you search, we’ve added a hovering toolbar that scrolls with you as you peruse the page. We receive many inquiries from researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and authors about the proper way to cite our words. Our “cite” button makes documenting your research easier by displaying proper citation formats for your word for MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, AMA, IEEE, and BibTe.


  • Our brand-new word origin maps provide visualizations of where in the world words come from. English has been called a vacuum cleaner of a language because it picks up words from everywhere around the world. The new maps show words’ journeys en route to English. “Giraffe,” for instance, may have originated in Persian, but it passed through Arabic, Italian, and French before entering English in 1585.


  • To give you an idea of how the word you’re looking up stacks against other words in the English language, we’ve added our proprietary difficulty index to every definition page. This feature ranks words based on their complexity and frequency of use.
  • Love Scrabble and Words with Friends? Located in the right column, our new Scrabble and Words With Friends tiles tell you how many points you can get for the word you’ve looked up, so that you can make sure that you’re always on top of your game.

Here’s some early feedback from our visitors:

“Loving the new site design guys, loads faster than ever!” –Omar C. via Facebook

“I just learned that dictionary.com provides you with both the scrabble and Words with Friends base score value when you look up a word” –Laura Creecy via Twitter

We look forward to hearing what you think! Check out the new look and feel of our pages and discover all the new features we have to offer. Your feedback is valuable to us, so drop us a line here.

Word Fact: What’s The Origin of Pizza?

pizza, chalkboard

The word pizza is Italian for pie, but how that word wound up in Italian boggles etymologists. It may have come from the Latin pix meaning “pitch” or Greek pitta, but others say that it originated in a Langobardic word bizzo meaning “bite.”

Where did the dish itself emerge? The common belief is that Italians invented pizza, but a baked bread with toppings has many other precursors in other cuisines. Italy’s version of the dish, especially from Naples, is the one we are most familiar with, though pissaladière from Provence, coca from Catalan, and lahma bi ajeen from the Middle East all bear a remarkable resemblance to pizza.

Supposedly, this archetypal pizza, an open-faced pie slathered in tomato sauce and mozzarella, was ushered in by the baker Raffaele Esposito in Naples. In 1889, he made a patriotic pie topped with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, ingredients the colors of the Italian flag, in honor of King Umberto and Queen Margherita’s visit. It is rumored the Queen enjoyed the pie, and thus, it became known as a Margherita.

In the US, Italian immigrants sold pizza in their stores, and the first pizzeria was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi at 53 1/3 Spring Street in New York City, but pizza did not truly not catch on stateside until World War II. Stationed in Italy, many American and European soldiers tasted pizza, and brought an appetite for this now-ubiquitous dish home with them.

Where’s your favorite slice from?

Welcome to News & Notes!


Welcome to News & Notes, our new blog to bring you the latest product updates and announcements at Dictionary.com! Since 1995, Dictionary.com has been bringing words to life for people all over the world, whether they want to increase their vocabulary, learn a new language, check their spelling, or hear how a word is pronounced.

We envision this blog as a place to highlight feedback from our our visitors, and to provide insight into the changes we are implementing to make our products even better. Here’s what’s new for August!

iPhone 4.6 Update
Today we released our newest Dictionary iPhone app with major improvements in speed and navigation:

Increased Speed
We are super excited to announce that our latest version is the fastest app we’ve ever built. This improvement dramatically increases the speed for searches of over 2 million terms. It’s an infrastructure overhaul and a huge innovative jump that completes searches faster than many other dictionary apps, so your curiosity and workflow won’t be interrupted with slow loading.

We’ve also improved the speed of searching in our Thesaurus, so you can browse synonyms to find the word you are looking for in less than a second.

iphonescreenshot1Improved Navigation and Functionality
When you scroll down to see more information, the header will collapse in order to increase the reading area and expands when you scroll back up. This subtle difference helps to maximize the real estate of your screen so that you can quickly take in more content.

The navigation between your definition page and the upgrade tabs has been optimized so that looking up additional content for words is a more seamless experience. Specifically, the Grammar & Tips upgrade includes a new and improved persistent browsing bar tab that clearly indicates when a helpful tip is available on the words you are searching. You can now easily check for common syntax errors or other grammatical tips and tricks with one-tap access the next time you’re looking up a word, writing a cover letter, or proofreading a paper.

So give it a go and download our latest app to see the difference:

Get the iPhone 4.6 app  >> 

Let us know what you enjoy most about our newest app, and stay tuned to learn about upcoming releases and exciting developments at Dictionary.com!


A Rogue Coinage: Manic Pixie Dream Girl


In 2007 film critic Nathan Rabin coined the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl in an attempt to classify Kirsten Dunst’s role in Elizabethtown. He first described this stock romantic character as a woman who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Last week, seven years after the first appearance of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Rabin officially apologized for the coinage in a thoughtful piece about this unwieldy term.

When Rabin first coined the term his intentions were noble. He was challenging filmmakers who propagated the portrayal of women as mere accessories to the men they happened to encounter. Rabin writes, “I felt as if I had tapped into something that had been part of our culture for a long time.” However, as the term picked up cultural currency, it morphed into something else entirely. Taken out of context, the term lost its feminist undertones. The term Manic Pixie Dream Girl evolved from a fanciful cautionary tale to a living breathing thing. Real women, not just fictional ones, were given this label. Within only a few years, the term that Rabin coined to call out the unsettling “patriarchal lie” was seen as part of the problem.

This is not the first time someone has apologized for a coinage run rampant. Just last year Stephen Fried wrote a similar apology for bringing the term fashionista into the world in what he called “a crime against nomenclature.” Like Rabin, Fried created a term that meant one thing—in this case, the entourage of people required on the set of a fashion photoshoot—but the term has since taken on many unintended meanings, including “fashion victim.” This unsuspecting word also launched the popularity of the already existing -ista suffix in the English language, for better or for worse. Fried didn’t mean to start anything. He just needed a word that didn’t happen to exist in English at the time.

Not all people credited as coiners want the attention. For many years, the geochemist Wallace Broecker was credited for coining the phrase global warming. Overly unenthused to have this credit, Broecker offered a cash prize of $250 to any of his students who could antedate the term from before his 1975 paper “Climate Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” One student collected this prize after finding citations of this term from the 1950s. In 2010 Broecker said, “If my prediction were based on something that turned out to be correct, I would be proud of it; instead I am embarrassed.” Broecker was glad he could, once and for all, dispel the erroneous coinage credit “because people think that this is the only thing I did in my life.”

Though Rabin did coin the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl, he doesn’t want to be known for it. In fact, he tries not to use the term in his film criticism these days because it has become so much of a cliché. In his apology for coining Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Rabin writes: “by giving an idea a name and a fuzzy definition, you apparently also give it power. And in my case, that power spun out of control.” I predict this epithet will stick around at least another seven years, despite having been disowned by its originator. Try as we might to control them, words have a life of their own.

Which Overachiever is August Named For?

august, chalkboard

August has arrived. If you’re in Europe, it’s likely you’re taking an extended holiday. If you’re anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, you might just be trying to stay cool. August is the eighth month of the Gregorian calendar, and the sixth month of the Roman calendar. Its original name was Sextilus, Latin for “sixth month.” In 8 BCE, the month was named in honor of Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor.

The emperor was a man of many names. He was born Gaius Octavius, the grandnephew of Julius Caesar. He took the extended name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus in 44 after Caesar’s assassination. Though in English texts, he was often referred to simply as Octavian. Then in 31, he defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra to gain control over the empire. Finally in 27, when he was named emperor, he was given the honorary title Augustus.

When we describe something as august, we are saying it is majestic and inspires reverence or admiration. The word can also take the form of an adverb (augustly) and a noun (augustness). August also relates to augury, the act of divination (telling the future), particularly by the behavior of birds and animals and the examination of their entrails and other parts. Augurs were the official Roman soothsayers, whose job was not to tell the future so much as to determine if the Roman gods approved of a planned course of action.

August is cause for great celebration in Korea, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia. It is the month when all four countries became independent. And here’s a usage not heard often: an auguste(or august) is a “type of circus clown who usually wears battered ordinary clothes and is habitually maladroit or unlucky.” May your August be filled with favorable omens and devoid of unlucky circus clowns.

Car show for charity\

Post-Tribune (IN) August 8, 2007 | Charles M. Bartholomew, Post-Tribune correspondent THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSION Visitors to the charity car show for Gabriel’s Horn shelter walk toward a red 1966 Chevelle at Action Auto Spa in South Haven.(PHOTO – Color) (PHOTOS BY MICHAEL GARD/FOR THE POST-TRIBUNE) Bobby Maginas of Valparaiso has customized his 2000 Volkswagen Passat with a 3,000-watt power acoustic in the trunk, with light effects and video screens in the cabin.(PHOTO – Color) A 1932 Ford High Boy Roadster was one of the cars on display recently at the auto show. Entry fees and donations raised hundreds of dollars for Gabriel’s Horn shelter.(PHOTO) The owner of a commercial building and his tenant have teamed up to help Gabriel’s Horn. South Haven resident Curtis Williams, who opened Action Auto Spa 10 months ago, and his landlord, Jim Minard of Valparaiso, joined a long list of Portage Township individuals, business people and organizations who came together three years ago to make the homeless shelter possible. in our site 1969 dodge charger

“The community donates 90 percent of all the support we get,” said Tim Sullivan, president of the board that runs the shelter in conjunction with the Portage Township Trustee’s Office.

Williams and Minard’s son, Kevin, a sophomore in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, put together their first car show recently for Gabriel’s Horn. They raised money, through registration fees and donations, that will help pay for utilities, supplies and other expenses at the shelter.

“We want them to return to what we call a normal life,” Sullivan said of the shelter’s residents.

Overcast skies and ongoing road construction didn’t deter a steady stream of automobile aficionados. website 1969 dodge charger

“We thought we could help our neighbors out by throwing a little money toward a good cause and draw some attention for a new business,” Williams said.

Gabriel’s Horn, at 792 McCool Road, is next to his shop, where he sells and installs automotive accessories.

“I just drive this for pleasure on weekends, to charities and benefits,” said Howard Munson of Schererville, who was sitting by a 1993 pearl-gold Corvette, repainted five years ago, with 20-inch wheels.

Appearing as a his-and-hers act were Betty and Jimmy Rivera.

“My regular car is a ’96 Grand Am. We try to do as many as we can,” said Betty, parked beside her tungsten-gray 2006 Ford GT.

“We take these out mostly on charity drives,” said her husband, squinting at the glare off his black 2003 Cobra.

When the time came to hand out the trophies, the Cobra took the prize for Best Engine. Betty Rivera’s Ford GT won Best Post-Classic, and Munson was awarded Best Paint Job. The Best Classic was a 1969 Dodge Charger owned by Nick Manteau of Hobart, and Bobby Maginas of Valparaiso had Best Sound Set-up for his Volkswagen Passat.

Charles M. Bartholomew, Post-Tribune correspondent

Around the Web: Autocorrect and Common Street Names

broadway, street sign

The New York Times launched a new tool to analyze how they use words over time.

A linguistic take on how we name bands today at the Morning News.

Brush up on the history of autocorrect from Wired.

Also, here’s a discussion of the word “uber” over time from the Boston Globe. Also from the Globe, English is a language exporter.

Japanese has a word for “book hoarder” in LA Times’ Jacket Copy.

What language should you learn according to the Huffington Post?

The language of finance and the future of the economy from the New Yorker.

Infographic: 20 Most Common Street Names in America at Good.

Wednesday Winner: Disambiguate


Today’s word was selected by Dimitri A. from Montpelier, VT. He said he chose disambiguate because “it is one of the more unspoken words, yet its meaning is often seen everywhere else, just phrased differently.”

Submit your favorite word here and it could be chosen as one of our Word of the Day selections!