Magic Spell Jar – Post Five (21-25)

21. Rack, Wrack –

Rack – is a place to keep or put things, like a clothes rack or a cue rack. But also in medieval torture chambers they often had a rack.  They attached people to it and stretched them as a means of torture.  None of us want any personal experience with a torture rack.

Wrack – is most often used in “wrack your brain” – to attempt to wring out particular memories.  Another fairly common phrase is “wrack and ruin,” usually referring to the wreckage of  one’s life or emotional state.

22. Regimen, Regiment – This is included because the nurses at the nursing home never did get it right.

Regimen – is a schedule or plan for administering drugs – or a plan that you adhere to for other things, like exercise.

Regiment – is a military grouping or division.  The nurses insisted the drugs were administered according to regiment. I always pictured this whole mess of soldiers forcing the pills down the poor old people’s throats.

23. Ring, Wring

Ring – Ah, ring has so many meanings: a precious piece of jewelry for your finger, a sound a bell makes, a mark around a collar or bathtub, and age indicator within a tree, and more.

Wring –  Wring basically is to twist something with the intent of extracting, like to wring out your laundry to extract the excess water before hanging it to dry.  You may have heard the expression “wring your neck.”  When you wring something’s neck you are still extracting something – in this case the life of the victim.  But when someone says, “I’ll wring your neck for saying that,” in this country it is an idle threat, meaning they won’t really follow through on it.  In some countries I suspect you should take a comment like that seriously


.24. Separate – means set apart – this word gives some people trouble. Just remember there is a rat in separate.


25. Shudders, Shutters –

I include this because an English teacher whose blog I follow interchanged them and just this evening I saw the same mistake on another blog.

Shudder is something you do – a tremor usually associated with being cold, frightened, or disgusted.  You might say, “He shuddered when the dragon roared.”  Or the congealed food on the plate made me shudder .

Shutter is a usually something you shut.  You have shutters over your windows or you can shutter your eyes which does not mean close them but to close off any expression in them.  I don’t know how to do that, but I’ve read about it.  Shutter can also be the person or mechanism that shuts something.

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