What’s the Difference?: A Guide to Commonly Confused Words, Ideas and Things
This book never got off the ground because it took too long to piece together. But it contains some great entries and so it is worth preserving here. For a long time I become a lightly obsessed with clarity in verbal communications. I noticed that too often people said things that were unclear and I didn’t like searching for their meaning. I would catch myself being blunt of rude in questioning them, and coaching them to speak more clearly. Articulate and project, I often counseled the unwary. God was I pompous. Still am. So, in a search for clarity and meaning I collected and contrasted words that were often confused. I had many more but lost my master list along the way. So here is all that remains. Another casualty of time was a long list of people, laces and ideas what are commonly confused. I loved supplementing it. Maybe ine day I will find it and if I do I will add it to this website as a separate document. Until then, make do with these. Credit goes to Utah writer John Sweeney for some of these entries. Thanks John!
For a bigger list (without explanations) see the Lists pages and search for the one called Commonly Confused.
What’s the difference between etymology and entomology?
If you ever researched where a specific world came from, then you have studied etymology. Etymology can be easily confused with Entomology because they obviously are spelled and sound so similar to each other, but other than this difference they have no academic connection. They only other similarity between them is the suffix “ology” which refers to a serious study of some branch of learning.
Etymology is an area of linguistics, which is the scientific study of oral language, including where words come from, how words develop and change, word histories and similarities between languages. Etymology focuses on this academic study of 1) word origins 2) word histories and 3) similar words.
Entomology, however, is a branch of a larger, general study of all animals called zoology. Entomology is a specialized area within zoology that only studies insects, which includes animals like ants, termites, bees, wasps, flies, grasshoppers, fleas, scorpions and butterflies among many other insects.
What’s the difference between cement, concrete and mortar? A building tradesman was pounding a nail into a stone wall. Very quickly he realized that it was easier to penetrate the mortar than the rock. The task prompted his apprentice to ask him about the difference between common masonry binding agents. That’s an easy question to an experience builder, who frequently works with all such methods. Cement is a clay powder mixture consisting of a pulverized limestone, sand and dry clay. Concrete is the product created by adding and mixing water to cement. Since “cement” is available in different grades, mortar is concrete made of cement to which stone gravel is added. Masons use concrete and mortar- two binding agents which serve the same purpose interchangeably
based upon the amount of gravel the deem the stone or build requires to set most strongly.
What’s the difference between sedition and treason?
If you or others wanted to change a government in power, you could do it peacefully and according to the law, or you could do it with violence. If you chose a peaceful way, you could be involved in sedition, which is conduct against a government or those in authority for the purpose of creating dissatisfaction, resistance or rebellion towards the state or a representative of the government. This disaffection commonly is expressed through writing, publishing or free speech. Unless you violate the safety and rights of others, it is not illegal in the United States to commit sedition.
Treason is a different story. Treason is distinguished from sedition by its open actions of either violence, forceful resistance or helping, aiding or assisting an enemy of the government forcefully change the government or its rulers. Someone can be arrested, imprisoned or even executed for being found guilty of treason. If you want to read about someone who committed treason and became a traitor to the Untied States, you can read about a man named Benedict Arnold during the United States Revolutionary War.
In a simple summary then, sedition is the relatively peaceful attempt to change or overthrow a state or a government official, which treason requires some degree of coercion, threats or violence to achieve the same objective.
What’s the difference between burglary, larceny and robbery?
Law enforcement officials sure know; that’s their job. And since the elements of each crime are different, it is important that the file the charge based upon the facts of each case. A larceny is a theft, no matter where it takes place. Whether a larcenous offense is a misdemeanor or a felony depends upon the monetary value of the stolen objects. A burglary is a larceny committed from a closed building, house or vehicle. It requires the breaking of a private place from which the theft occurs. A robbery is a larceny against a person, whether by force or not. Thus a person who breaks into a house who steals the homeowner’s wedding ring is guilty of both a burglary and a robbery. Of course it is a larceny too but prosecutors always lay the most serious charge in the hope it will motivate the offender to capitulate guilty.
What’s the difference between Latin, Hispanic, and Spaniard?
Every American, except Native Americans, has ancestors that were born in other parts of the world. Each of these three designations applies to natives or descendants from Latin America, which includes all of the countries of Central and South America. The reason “Latin” identifies these countries is because Latin is the major root-language of the nations of Spain, Portugal and France who originally colonized these areas.
Generally, Latin describes either a native of Latin America, or a person of Latin American origin living outside of those countries, particularly someone within the United States. Spaniard commonly refers to a native of Spain, but occasionally also means a former resident of that nation. Likewise, Hispanic identifies a person of Latin American descent, but especially someone from Mexico or Caribbean Islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Additionally, in much of English conversation and official U.S. government publications these distinctions are usually not made, but either the titles of Hispanic, Hispanic American or sometimes Latin are used interchangeably. While the Spanish-speaking and Spanish-print media commonly use terms like Hispanic and Latin, some Latinos and Hispanic American avoid these general term and prefer more precise word to designate their heritage like Mexican American or Cuban American.
What’s the difference between Communism and Socialism?
This is a tough one, and then it isn’t. Karl Marx (1818-1883) the father of communist theory was both an economist and political philosopher. To him, class warfare was inevitable because he believed the rich always exploited the poor and the poor would eventually rise up and reject it. The only just and equitable solution “to this” “dialectic reality” was the redistribution of “the means of production” to the working class on an equal ban. This he called Socialism and he argued that the government must oversee the redistribution to assure it is done honestly and equitably. Communism is the theoretical final outcome of Socialism, a state with an economy and potential structure in which all citizens own and share equally- a kind of utopian society that he predicted would eventually emerge from socialist democracy.
As good as it sounds, it has never worked. Witness the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Communist block of eastern Europe. Witness the transformation of China and the poverty of Cuba. Socialism is a good and benevolent idea, but sadly, it runs contrary to human instinct. Man is a social animal but an animal nonetheless.
What’s the difference between biweekly, semiweekly, bimonthly, semimonthly, biyearly, semiyearly, biannual, biennial and perennial?
Each of these time-words beginning with either the prefix “bi” or “semi” have been interchangeable for over a century. Biweekly and semiweekly, for example, can mean either twice a week or every two weeks. The same is true of bimonthly or semimonthly which can both mean twice a month or every two months. If the writer or speaker does not make clear which meaning is intended, the best way to understand the difference is to look for contextual clues in the complete sentence or statement. For example, “Because fo the large amount of paperwork on the job, the accountant, asked to submit his reports just bimonthly (every two months) instead of twice a month.” So when you use any of these words, try and clearly communicate what you actually mean by giving clear clues in your writing or speaking.
Biannual and biennial, however, have two completely different meanings. Biannual means occurring twice a year, while biennial refers to occurring every two years, such as a biennial plant that usually takes two years for its life cycle.
Perennial is also very different, and always refers to either 1) a plant that says the same throughout the year or from year-to-year, or more commonly 2) a plant that has a growth life-cycle that exists and renews each and every year.
What’s the difference between imply and infer?
Imply means to suggest, to hint or to insinuate something, while infer connotes an interpretation, an assumption, a deduction or a conclusion based on the words of a speaker or writer. Only a speaker or writer can imply, and only a listener or reader can infer. For example, “Jon implied that he constantly craved diary products, and from this symptom, John’s doctor inferred that John probably had a calcium deficiency in his diet.”
What’s the difference between cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude?
If you studied hard in college and earned high grades, you’d probably like to be publicly recognized for that hard work. One of the ways universities or other schools acknowledge exceptional academic distinction is giving one of these three, honorary titles to their graduates. And understanding the meaning of these eight Latin root prepositional equivalent of the English preposition “with,” “laude” means the same as the English word “laud” or “praise,” and “magna” and “summa” connote “great” and “highest,” respectively.
While different institutions can vary in what grade point average or to the academic standards distinguish these awards, generally, the totality of these honors includes in the top 8% of graduates. The academic honor of graduating summa cum laude is often awarded to the top 1% of undergraduates who are given the “highest praise” or distinction. Magna cum laude includes the next highest 2.5% with “great praise” or honor, and the designation cum laude, “with praise,” recognizes the remaining 4.5% of the total highest 8% of grade point averages in that graduating class.
What’s the difference between white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and sweet chocolate?
Yes, I said “white” chocolate. You might well be asking: “If it’s chocolate, how can it
be white?” “Do they bleach it?” “Is white chocolate not ‘real’ chocolate?” Well, to understand these differences we need to first understand some of their similarities.
All chocolate is considered “chocolate” if it comes form the same source, which is the cocoa seeds of the cacao (caa-cow) tree which grows mostly in tropical rain forests. But if all chocolate has a common source, you ask, how can there be both white and dark chocolate? Here’s the answer: They are both very different because of 1) how these cocoa seeds are processed and 2) the ingredients that remain after the final processing of these seeds that gives white and dark chocolate their contrasting colors, contents, textures and tastes.
Ah, but what are these contrasting ingredients? Well, after the seeds are cleaned and roasted, the processed chocolate yields a sweet, syrupy liquid called chocolate liquor. (it’s nonalcoholic!) White chocolate looks white because one of the byproducts of processing the cacao seeds is yellowish, lighter-colored, substance called cocoa butter, which is added to the chocolate liquor, and gives white chocolate its lighter color. Dark chocolate has its color, taste and texture because it does not have cocoa butter added to it, but because dark, dried cocoa powder is added to the chocolate liquor, which is the powder that remains after the seed processing.
And we have reached our final fact, for all forms of chocolate also have minor, additional additives, like milk for example, that creates the distinctive taste and texture of milk chocolate. Sweet chocolate is made by simply adding powdered sugar to cocoa butter. Other forms of chocolate have their various tastes and texture because of the variety and amount of their additives. Now, take a break and enjoy your favorite chocolate because they all contain theobromine, a caffeine-like stimulant that will satisfy your hunger and give you and energy boost!
What’s the difference between SOS and Mayday?
If you ever heard someone say that “SOS” is an abbreviation or an acronym for anything like “Save our Ship” or “Save our Souls,” you have been a victim of a common myth and falsehood. SOS does not stand for any specific words, but it is a general distress signal like a person simply shouting, “Help!” It is a quickly dispatched, world-wide, distress signal communicated through the American or International System of Morse Code. Although
both are emergency distress signals, the central distinction between them is that SOS is a nonverbal communication that is either visual or audible, while Mayday is only an audible distress code spoken general over two-way, oral communication devices like a radio or walkie-talkie. Surface ships, for example often use “SOS,” while airplane pilots or airplane crew members often verbally say “Mayday” when they are announcing an emergency.
Morse Code is usually used to communicate SOS, and is a combination of varied dots, or rapid, quick sounds, and dashes, longer, continued sounds that represent every letter of the English alphabet, and the number 1-9 and 0, as well as period and comma. The letter “S,” for example, is represented by three dots, and the letter “O” is represented by three dashes, with dashes lasting three times longer than dots. Therefore, “SOSO” is communicated as “dot, dot, dot – dash, dash, dash – dot, dot, dot” by different techniques such as alternating short and long electrical impulses over a telegraph line, or through a radiotelegraph signal, a flashing light or other kinds of alternating abrupt and prolonged signals or sounds like even someone simply tapping with their finger or some other object.
What’s the difference between tendons and ligaments?
Have you ever wondered how our bones and muscles are held together and how they are able to move? That is the function of tendons and ligaments. Both tendons and ligaments are composed of large bundles or either white or yellow, strong, fibrous protein
called collagen, and they serve as “connective tissue” that supports, holds or moves our bones and muscles. Their differences, however, are in what part of the body they are found and the different function and operation that each has.
Ligaments serve their functions in three different ways. Firstly, they hold bones to other bones, and secondly their purpose is to hold cartilage to either bones or other cartilage, such as connecting the upper and lower arm bones together at the elbow, as well as holding together the vertebrae or bones of the spine.
The third function of ligaments is to hold major joints together like the ligaments that surround the large hip and shoulder joints. Ligaments also attaché and support internal organs like the uterus, the kidneys, the bladder, and the diaphragm. No one would want those organs “flopping” around inside them, and thanks to ligaments they don’t. Although ligaments have an elastic, stretching ability, like those that hold the many foot bones together, they can be stretched too much and become strained, injured or even torn. Other common ligaments are those that hold the bones together in our wrists, ankles and knees.
Conversely, while tendons also have some flexibility, they cannot stretch like ligaments do. Also a tendon’s two-fold purpose is to 1) connect moving muscles, like you thigh muscles and biceps, to bones or 2) connect muscles to other muscles. Therefore, because they are attached to bones, and because of their pulling or pushing effect on their bones, tendons make physical motion possible. Other examples of tendons include the Achilles tendon on the back of the mid-calf to the rear base of the heel, the tendon that connects the large muscles to the thigh and tendons in the hands and fee that allow us to move the bones in our fingers and hands.
What’s the difference between a bug and an insect?
Most people who see any small, creep-crawly creature, like a cockroach or an ant usually call them a “bug.” But not all of these little critters are bugs. There are important, scientific, classification distinctions for the 5,600 different types of true “bugs,” and the more than 800,000 true “insects.”
“Bug” is both a scientific and lay person’s term, but then often used by lay people it can be frequently misused and can become a misnomer. All bugs are scientifically classified as insects but not all insects are classified as bugs. All bugs belong to the class of Insecta, but true bugs belong to only one of the lower twenty-nine Insect orders called Hemiptera. Also adding to this confusion is the common lay-error of calling insects int eh remaining twenty-eight orders of the Insecta, “bugs,” when ladybugs and potato bugs, for example, are actually beetles, and also misnaming spiders who are actually arachnids and terrestrial crustaceans like the wood louse as a “bug.”
So what’s the difference? Well, insects differ further from bugs in not only how they are scientifically classified, but in noticeable, physical ways. Almost all adult insects have the unique, following components that “bugs” do not have 1) three, distinct, body parts consisting of a_ the head containing the brain and most other sensory organs, b) the thorax or chest which is the attachment of the legs and optional wings, c) an abdomen which holds the digestive and reproductive organs and d) other body segmentations within these three larger segments, 2) three pairs of legs, 3) compound eyes, 4) one or two pairs of wings, 5) an eternal skeleton or exoskeleton, 6) no backbone, 7) sucking mouth parts with well-evolved beaks and 8) they almost all reach adulthood through metamorphosis, like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
These characteristics can be seen in examples of insect like bees, wasps, flies, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, fleas, silverfish and moths, and examples of bus which have none of the above characteristics and include examples like aphids, bedbugs, lace bugs, water bugs, stinkbugs, and cicadas.
What’s the difference between brass and bronze?
Anciently, people combined certain elements to make mixtures of two or more metals that are called alloys. Although brass and bronze are both metal alloys that contain copper, they are distinguished from each other because of 1) their total metallic composition, 2) their varied uses and 3) their external appearance.
Today, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and sometimes other metals in various proportions, but anciently the term “brass” was also often applied to any copper alloy, particularly one that included tin. While harder than copper alone, brass is a softer metal than bronze, and with its easier malleability is commonly used to make bright, shiny objects such as metal fittings, eating utensils, picture frames and other ornaments like doorknobs and latches and brass instruments such as trumpets, trombones and tubas.
Originally also, bronze was an alloy of only copper and tin, but today includes other such metals such as aluminum bronze, manganese bronze and silicon bronze, as well as being made only of copper and tin as it was originally. Harder than any metal alloy except steel, bronze historically has been used to make weapons like swords and spears and tools, and some machine parts, like those for internal combustion engines. In spite of its inherent strength, however, the exterior of bronze, like pure copper, does not weather well in the elements, and frequently develops a green or brownish surface coloring or film, unlike brass which tends to have a more, permanent, shiny, external appearance. If you have ever seen the Statue of Liberty which is made of copper, than you have seen this greenish, exterior covering.
What’s the difference between a dwarf, a midget and a pygmy?
Dwarfism is a medical condition that both dwarfs and midgets possess. This syndrome has many causes including heredity, various diseases and hormonal or nutritional inadequacies during pregnancy, but always results in adults with diminished height between two and four feet. Although both dwarfs and midgets prefer to be called “little people,” their physical distinction is that midgets have normal body proportions with their shorter height while dwarfs have irregular body development. This uneven bone growth can be seen in different ways where, for example, the head can be abnormally large, or the arms and legs can be irregularly undersized compared to the torso.
Conversely, pygmies doe not have dwarfism, but are distinguished by 1) the cause of Pygmyism, 2) their peculiar physical traits and 3) their indigenous geographic locations. Pygmyism is generally inherited which results in a) diminished height of generally between four and four and one-half feet, b) reddish-brown skin, c) thickly-curled brown hair, d) usually a round-shaped head with a broad flat nose and e) a fairly event proportion body, but often with a protruding abdomen, short legs and long arms. Additionally, unlike those with dwarfism who blend into societies and cultures worldwide, pygmies exist as nomadic tribe hunters and gatherers in more isolated world locations, principally central Africa.
The difference between dwarfs and midgets can be understood by knowing the cause of the medical condition of dwarfism. Dwarfism occurs when cartilage, the origin of bones, does not develop normally during pregnancy. This abnormal, bone development results in unequal growth of different areas of the body, where for example, the head can be asymmetrically large or the arms and legs could be proportionately undersized. While dwarfism can be inherited, its more common origins can come form a broad range of diseases, various hormonal deficiencies, Down’s Syndrome or even nutritional inadequacies during pregnancy.
Both of these terms refer to persons whose adult height ranges between two and four feet, with their only physical differentiation being that midgets possess normal, body proportions in their limbs, head and torso while dwarfs do not, although today both dwarfs and midgets prefer to be called “little people.” Dwarfs then, can typically have disproportionate body areas, where, for example, the head can be much larger than the torso, or the arms and legs can be undersized compared to the rest of the body.
Conversely, pygmies have several distinguishing characteristics from both dwarfs and midgets. These differences are in 1) the cause of Pygmyism, 2) the pygmies’ peculiar, physical features and 3) their indigenous geographic locations. While Dwarfism has many causes, all pygmies have genetically-inherited, reduced height along with their other, unique, physical qualities. In addition to being generally between four and four and one-half feet tall as adults, pygmies also have reddish-brown skin, thickly-curled brown hair, a fairly proportional body, but with slightly short legs and somewhat longer arms, and most have a round-shaped head with a broad flat nose and distinctly protruding abdomen. Furthermore, pygmies od not have a unique common language, but tend to speak the language of their non-pygmy neighbors, as well as being normally identified by indigenous names like the Senang, the Aeta, the Negrito, the Mbuti, the Bambuti and the Anamanse.
Lastly, unlike dwarfs and midgets who blend into numerous cultures and societies worldwide, pygmies live as nomadic, tribe hunters and gatherers in specific areas such as the tropical forests of central Africa, the Philippine islands, central New Guinea and the Andaman Islands of India.
What’s the difference between asteroids, comets, meteors and meteorites?
A few years ago an extraordinary event occurred over the Russian city of Chelabynsk. A piece of the universe suddenly and rudely entered our atmosphere and exploded like a bomb above the horizon after colliding with the upper layers of our protective stratosphere. But what exactly was it? A big fiery rock? Well yes, but what kind of big fiery rock? Which got me thinking about celestial bodies and things that might fall from the sky that are not manmade. Meteors we call them, right? Or are they meteorites? Which got me thinking more broadly. How are comets and asteroids different that meteors and do they crash into the earth too? After, look at the moon. Those craters are for real. No doubt the earth once looked like that.
I started with the asteroid belt that we know occupies millions of miles between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are actually small planets in that they are mostly solid bodies that engage in their own orbits. They are also called planetoids. An asteroid certainly could slam into the earth but science would give us plenty of forewarning, as much as ten thousand years worth because asteroid orbits are predictable with precision. Asteroids come in all sizes and there are billions of asteroids circling within our solar system but many of them as only as big as a basketball.
Comets are celestial bodies that sail through the universe but possess a tail, usually because they are very hot and burning up as they travel. They can be made of solids or of gases or a combination of substances that might also include liquids. Like asteroids, comets can also collide with the earth and are just as predictable. Thus an asteroid that possesses a tail is a comet.
Meteors are celestial bodies that enter the earth’s atmosphere, most of which thankfully burn up upon entry. A meter can be an asteroid or a comet as long as it reaches the earth’s outer reaches. Meteorites are pieces of meteors that actually reach the earth’s surface. While most of meteorites fall into our oceans, those that strike the ground and are recoverable are rare and highly prized. They are more valuable by weight than gemstones.
So, the object that exploded over Chelabynsk in 2012 was a meteor. Yes it had a tail but it was not a comet because the tail we witnessed (and measured) only appeared after it hit the atmosphere and started to burn up. The jolt it experienced was great enough to make it explode, and that’s why, like a bomb, it shattered windows for miles and miles around that city. Russian scientists have estimated that had it hit the ground it would have exploded with the power of one hundred Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. That’s scary indeed!
What’s the difference between sumptuous and scrumptious?
Although these adjectives are frequently misused and confused, their meanings are clearly distinct. Sumptuous should be used to describe something that is very expensive, luxurious, impressive or majestic. If you visited a castle or a very large mansion, for example, you probably could describe it or its interior or its decorations as sumptuous.
Scrumptious on the other hand, is more correctly used to describe something that is very delicious or unusually tasty or even “delightfully excellent.” Therefore, it would be appropriate to use scrumptious to characterize an exceptional meal or a particular food as being scrumptious.
What’s the difference between curds and whey?
“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey. Along came a spider and sat down beside her, and she squashed that sucker with her spoon!” Well that’s not exactly the same nursery rhyme we learned as children, but it you understood what curds and whey were, you would probably think Miss Muffet had strange eating habits. This is lunch that sounds as unpleasant as a mustard milkshake.
Whey, the greenish-yellow, water part of milk, and curds, the solid portion of milk, are two, basic ingredients of that drink. But what exactly is a curd? (No, not a Kurd, that’s someone who lives in certain areas of the Middle East). Well, if you’ve ever seen cottage cheese, you have seen either small or large curds. Curds in cottage cheese, or cheese or milk are formed into either milk solids or small, pebble-sized, curdled balls of milk by a natural enzyme called rennin.
But curds and why are not eaten separately; they are consumed together when you drink a glass of milk or eat cheese in its many forms. Probably no one, except this strange girl with the unusual name of “Muffet” eats them while sitting on a tuffet, which incidentally, is either r a small cluster of grass or a low stool. I don’t know about you, but I drink my curds and whey as they naturally occur in milk, and inside the house away from eight-legged, creepy-crawly critters!
What’s the difference between pasteurization and homogenization?
Have you ever made the nauseating mistake of taking a sip of spoiled milk? I’ll bed even today just asking that question makes you feel sick to your stomach. Of course, even with correct refrigeration, all milk will eventually spoil if it is not consumed quickly enough. But you are less likely to end up with curdled milk thanks t the process of pasteurization.
Pasteurization might seem like a complicated scientific word, but it is not just a simple and effective procedure of heating, not only milk but certain other foods or drinks like fruit juices, wine and beer, and where milk, for example, is usually heated to 180 degrees for 30 minutes to make it “pasteurized.” To make other drinks or solid foods pasteurized, they are heated to temperatures usually between 131 degrees F to 158 degrees F, for various times periods, to destroy bacteria that causes milk and other foods to spoil. So when you buy these high-heated or pasteurized products, notice the expiration date and store them at the recommended temperatures; they’ve been pasteurized to keep them fresh as long as possible. You won’t waste your money, and you won’t feel like L.Y.L. (Losing Your Lunch)
Speaking of milk, if you were blindfolded and were asked to taste no-fat milk, 1% mild, 2% milk or whole milk, could you tell the difference? The answer if probably “Yes” because each other these final, milk mixtures has different amounts of natural cram, which obviously results in either a creamier or less creamy taste in the milk. And this leads us to understanding homogenization.
Like pasteurization, homogenization is a simple process and involves forcing hot milk through very small nozzles at high pressure resulting in the fat particles being more evenly spread throughout the milk. This procedure gives the milk a more creamy taste (allowing you to easily select the “whole” milk) because the lighter-weight cream is not able to settle just on the top of the heavier-weight milk. Additionally, the no-fat milk, 1% milk and 2% milk have a decreased creamy taste because the amount of cream and milk fat are proportionately removed. Because of these varying amounts of either fat removal or mixing, the homogenization or the “blending” of the cream and milk, the milk is left with different amounts of cream, and the easier it is for you to pass the “milk blindfold test.”
What’s the difference between amnesty, commutation, clemency, furlough, pardon, parole and probation?
Clemency is the general word which encompasses all forms of relief from a criminal conviction. It connotes a reduction or nullification from a judicial sentence. Thus, amnesty, commutation, furlough, pardon and parole are all forms of clemency. The power of clemency rests with the chief executive of a jurisdiction, the president or a governor. A president may not grant clemency for a sentence meted out by a state and vice/versa.
Amnesty is a blanket pardon to a group or class of offenders. The most famous amnesties issued by US Presidents were the 1978 amnesty of Vietnam draft dodgers issued by Jimmy Carter and the 1985 amnesty issued to illegal immigrants issued by Ronald Reagan.
A commutation is an executive order which grants a reduction or termination of an offender’s sentence, often for time served. It does not nullify the conviction, as does a pardon. Pardons, once issued, are final determinations that an offender’s conviction is permanently expunged as if it never happened. Pardons are rarely granted.
A furlough is an authorized temporary absence from incarceration, perhaps as a weekend pass or so an offender can attend a funeral of a family member. Prior to the war on crime of the 1980’s they were quite common but now they are almost non-existent.
And finally, a parole is a statutory device which permits an offender to leave incarceration and serve out wither the remainder of his or her sentence in the community while being subject to conditions that limit his or her freedom and require them to report to a parole officer who is charged with monitoring their progress and adherence to the conditions. A parole can be revoked and cause the return of the offender to incarceration. A similar statutory device is probation, which is similar to parole but is supervised the judge who sentenced the offender rather than by a parole agent acting under the jurisdiction of a parole board.
What’s the difference between epidemic and pandemic?
An epidemic is a public health emergency in which a contagious disease or illness is verified to have broke out and which requires immediate measures to stem. A pandemic is an epidemic that threatens a large number or people or a great geographic territory and is likely to grow more prevalent. Pandemics are relatively rare but very dangerous because they affect vast numbers of people at the same time and in the same region. A good example of a pandemic is the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is believed to have claimed 18,000 victims in five nations.