The value of finding the meaning of words and phrases


A perfect way to improve one’s knowledge and ability to think is to explore the meaning of words and phrases frequently. Doing so will reveal information you probably do not know and train you to ask basic questions such as, what does this really mean? It also helps us learn about different cultures and history some of which is strange and some humorous.


A good source for learning the meaning, use, and origin of words is which gives the word of the day every day. When you join for free, you receive the words daily. I use and enjoy it.


For example, we know that the verb “to orient” means to put something in its proper perspective. We also know that the noun “the orient” refers to oriental countries in the east. However, few people realize that the two are related: “to orient” is derived from the concept of “east.” In ancient times it was easier for people to discover directions – to orient themselves – by turning to where the sun rises, the east, toward the orient.


Phrases are also interesting and their meaning can be found easily on the internet in sources such as:


For example, we know that the phrase “red herring” is used today to describe a narrative or film element designed to distract readers and viewers from an important part of the plot. Where did this strange phrase come from?


It is derived from a British method of training dogs to pursue the scent of foxes. The trainers would start by having the puppies follow the aroma (the false odor) of “red herrings,” herrings that had been flavored with salt and smoked. It has a strong smell. The fish was dragged along a path and the dog was trained to track the strong odor. After learning to chase after the herring, the trainers would have the puppies hunt a combination of herrings with the milder fox scent running parallel to it. The dog soon learnt to run after the fox smell alone, not the red herring.