Taught? taut? tort? torte?

Taught. Past tense of the verb ‘to teach’ meaning to impart knowledge or give instruction (Mr Stephens taught history at our school; I was taught how to drive a car when I was sixteen)

Taut. Tense, tightly drawn (her face was taut with worry about whether her family had survived the earthquake)

Tort. A wrongful act, not including a breach of contract, that results in injury to another’s person, property, reputation etc. and for which the injured party is entitled to compensation (writing ‘paedophile’ on the window of someone’s house is an example of a tort)

Torte. A highly decorated rich cake containing cream etc. (my grandmother would make a torte with hazelnut, chocolate and cream for special occasions)


From ‘The Right Word’ by Elizabeth Morrison.

To teach is ‘to facilitate or draw out insight by engaging attention and encouraging inquiry and questioning.’ This approach to education is discussed in the introduction of Exisle Publishing’s new book Mindful Learning, written by Dr Hassed and Dr Chambers.


With people commencing or returning to study in January, this book uses the concept of mindfulness to make a positive difference and contribution towards success in learning. The Mindful Learning website has detailed information on the contents, authors, theory and practice of mindfulness applied in an educational context, from the Mindful Learning book.

However, if you desire to eat torte, not be taught, try the ‘Occasional Treats and Desserts’ recipes available in Optimum Health the Paleo Way. Claire Yates the author, supplies recipes which taste great and are packed full of nutrients – to be enjoyed occasionally, but when enjoyed – enjoyed thoroughly!


The Optimum Health the Paleo Way website introduces the benefits of eating the Paleo way and living the Paleo lifestyle, which are then comprehensively explained by Claire in her book.


In the introduction to Curious English Words and Phrases Max Cryer likens the English language to ‘a vast and ancient city’ magnificent, interesting and shambolic. An explanation of the origin of the last surprising adjective in his metaphor follows.

This is derived from ‘shambles’, which is a modern version of an old Latin word for a bench or table. In English it came to mean the table used by butchers for chopping beasts into portions. Shambles therefore became the word for a slaughterhouse or a place where meat was prepared.

An historic part of York is still called The Shambles, from the time when butchers’ shops were located there. And because meat preparation is always messy, the word shambles came to mean disorder, and a floppy, disorganised way of walking was called ‘a shamble’ because the legs were all over the place (like an animal’s legs on a butcher’s table).

But shamble(s) remained a noun until some bright spark turned it into an adjective and said, ‘This is a shambolic state of affairs.’ A new word was born.


From Curious English Words and Phrases by Max Cryer.

Kevin Rudd Quits

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd announced his retirement from federal politics on Wednesday night (13.11.2013), adding “it really is time for me to zip“. (definition of zip: Nothing or zero. Also zippo. Also used in the phrase ‘zip, zero, nada’ which means nothing at all.)

Mr Rudd, who served in the top (definition of top: The best or excellent. Also tops, e.g. ‘The party was tops’.) job between 2007 and 2010, and then again this year, wished Tony Abbott luck.

Mr Rudd received public support during the December 2006 election, and mobbed (definition of mob: 1. A crowd of people. 2. A group of people, perhaps friends, but not necessarily large. 3. If there are mobs of something there are large numbers of it. Also a big mob.) by jostling crowds, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard combined to knock-off (definition of knock off: 1. Time to stop work. 2. To stop doing anything. 3. To steal. 4. To kill. 5. To complete something with ease and speed. 6. To have sexual intercourse. 7. To copy or fake something.) Kim Beazley.

ABC News asked readers what they thought about Mr Rudd’s decision and the legacy of his 15-year political career.

“A bonza (definition of bonza or bonzer: Something that is very pleasing. A bonza bloke is someone who can be trusted and is good to be around.) Aussie PM. Enjoy your retirement Kevie.”

“My personal belief is KR is a compassionate decent man who didn’t “fall” (maybe tall poppy syndrome?).” (definition of tall poppies: A successful person or someone with great status. The Australian penchant for bringing successful people down to size is the tall poppy syndrome.).

News Source: ABC NEWS


Definitions from ‘The Lingo Dictionary’ by John Miller.

Sort or sought?

A tricky homophone recently spotted in the text of a real estate advertisement…
Sort. A particular kind, description or variety that is distinct from something else (the Blues was a new sort of music that originated from the African–American communities of the Deep South in America; mum, I don’t really like these biscuits, can I ask for another sort that I do like?); to arrange according to size, type etc. (your next job is to sort the knives, forks and spoons and put them in their correct place in the drawer); an inadequate or less socially acceptable person (you really shouldn’t be socialising with that sort of person); colloquial, someone who can be trusted or is a fun person to be with (Kathie is a great sort, full of fun); an attractive person (she is  a good sort!); also, to convince someone that they are wrong, sometimes with violence (if you keep on repeating that lie, we will sort you out)

Sought. Past tense of ‘to seek’, to try to find or obtain (we sought a lot more information on the robbery before any action was taken; he sought the name of the girl he met at the dance); to be desired or in demand (she was much sought after as an actor)


From ‘The Right Word’ by Elizabeth Morrison.