Winter distinctions

1. If you throw a snowball at a fence post, for example, are you tossing, hurling, or pitching?

2. Is a roast scorched or seared when it is cooked enough to seal in the juices?

3. Do you fix, affix, or fasten stamps to your holiday greeting cards?

4. If a gift is scarce, is it valuable, dear, or precious?

5. When we give to the needy, are we giving to those who face adversity, mischance, or mishap?

6. If the stars in a winter sky have a sparkling quality about them, are they bright, brilliant, or radiant?


(1) You are pitching, which means that you are throwing carefully at a target. To hurl stresses power, as in throwing a massive weight. Tossing suggests a light or careless throwing and often implies an upward motion.

(2) A roast is seared, or burned enough on the surface to dry it out or seal it; the word is particularly applied when cooking meats. To scorch is to burn a surface enough to discolor it and sometimes to damage the texture.

(3) You affix stamps, which means imposing one thing on another by gluing, impressing, or nailing. To fix usually means driving in, implanting, or embedding, as in fixing a stake in the ground. To fasten suggests an action such as tying, buttoning, or locking.

(4) A gift is precious if it is of such great worth as to be irreplaceable or one of a kind. Dear implies a relatively high price. Valuable means worth in market value as well as usefulness but does not imply scarcity.

(5) The most needy are those who face adversity, or the persistent and grave state of misfortune. Mishap applies to a trivial instance of bad fortune, such as a piece of lost luggage on a trip. Mischance implies a situation involving no more than a slight inconvenience, like taking a wrong turn.

(6) The stars would be brilliant, like the intense and sparkling brightness of diamonds. Bright is a more general term and means reflecting a high degree of light. Radiant stresses the emission, or the seeming emission, of rays of light.

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