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Author Topic: Words we use incorrectly  (Read 614 times)

genie

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Words we use incorrectly
« on: February 24, 2018, 06:04:16 PM »
Redundant
Maybe it’s the re- prefix that makes it so easy to mistakenly pair redundant with repetitive. It also doesn’t help that the word sounds like “re-done-dant,” as in “I’ve already done that, so I don’t need to redo it.” Rather than “redoing,” redundant relates to “over-doing.”

Tracing back to its medieval origins, redundant means “overflowing” in Latin. A good example of redundant can refer to writing, especially when it is verbose, overwrought, and tedious



genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2018, 06:05:21 PM »
Travesty
“That poor boy lost his father. What a travesty.” Many people would understand the speaker to mean tragedy, because the loss of a loved one is a tragic circumstance. However, travesty is not a synonym for tragedy, and the distinction between the terms is well worth remembering.

Travesty means “a grotesque or debased likeness or imitation.” For those who understand this meaning, misusing travesty in place of tragedy could result in seriously offending the listener.

However, if someone’s in a sham of a relationship, you could describe it as a travesty and tragedy and be just fine. Hopefully, it’s not you!

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2018, 06:07:36 PM »
Disinterested
Disinterested is a usual suspect in the lineup of easily-confused words. The dis- prefix invokes both the hardened sense of “not interested” (as in disapprove, dislike) and “dissing” (disparage, dismiss). But, the primary definition of this word is actually unrelated to the expression of selfish, negative emotions. In fact, it’s associated with the state of being unbiased, or “not influenced by selfish motives.”

A disinterested person may very well be interested and curious about a matter at hand, but he or she doesn’t wish to take sides with the issue or show prejudice through personal motivations. For clarity, a person who doesn’t take an interest in something is simply “not interested.”

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2018, 06:09:47 PM »
i.e. / e.g.
More confusing than Stephen Hawking’s theories, i.e. and e.g. take the cake of this slideshow.

In Latin, i.e. stands for id est, meaning “that is.” It is used whenever you want to restate (in different words) the point you’re trying to make. Think of i.e. as in other words and use the i in in to remember how to use it. “My stomach is making growling sounds, i.e., (“in other words”) I’m hungry.”

And, e.g. stands for exempli gratia, or “for the sake of example.” You can remember how to use this correctly by thinking of “example give,” the strange-sounding reverse of “give [an] example.” “My stomach is making growling sounds, e.g., (“for example”) gurgles, plops, swishes, and bleets.”

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2018, 06:12:01 PM »
Peruse
The primary definition of peruse does not mean “to skim or glance,” which people so often associate with the term. So many people have used this term wrong, it’s now made it into the dictionary! That’s impressive.

However, the underlying and long-standing definition relates to the “leisurely” pace of reading a document as the reader takes the time to thoroughly review what’s been written. Based on the Middle English use of per- meaning “completely,” peruse has meant to “read carefully” since the 1500s.

Luce

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2018, 03:12:53 AM »
Well, this is paramount when writing period drama! They're all 'Austen' language!
Thanks for sharing, Genie!
Eagerly waiting for more!
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genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2018, 02:22:38 PM »
Well, this is paramount when writing period drama! They're all 'Austen' language!
Thanks for sharing, Genie!
Eagerly waiting for more!

I think I'm guilty of DISINTERESTED and REDUNDANT.

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2018, 02:29:23 PM »
FREE REIGN  vs  FREE REIN

A king has free reign of his kingdom. Everything is smooshed under his thumb, from the vassals slaving in his fields to the court jesters doing the chicken dance at banquets. When the king learns his “reign” is just an eggcorn, he’s going to be pissed. In fact, the king disappears entirely from the picture, as does the idea that free reign means strict rule over all things.

Instead, enter a horse and its rider who holds the horse’s reins or straps that control the animal’s movements. The true phrase free rein is almost the opposite of what’s described above: The rider loosens his grip on the reins, giving the horse more freedom to move how it wants. Having free rein means freedom from control . . . not controlling others’ freedoms.

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2018, 02:34:54 PM »
FOR ALL INTENSIVE PURPOSES   vs   FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES

When you're trying to make a point, but you don't want to seem to self-righteous or like a know-it-all, you tend to whip out this phrase to lighten the mood.

But, what the heck is an intensive purpose?

Well, an intensive purpose means nothing in terms of this phrase, because it's actually for all intents and purposes.

Intents and purposes are essentially synonyms, so this phrase is redundant, but the redundancy works well to convey the meaning of all purposes.

For the most part, use the above phrase. But, purposes can be intensive. Your purpose to work out at the gym five times a week for three-hour stretches would be characterized by a crazy (questionable) degree of intensity (i.e., “All my intensive purposes at the gym are paying off”).

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2018, 02:36:07 PM »
TOW THE LINE  vs  TOE THE LINE


When you're getting to close to messing something up or when you're about to really piss someone off, you're towing the line.

Wait . . . this one isn't right?

Okay, to clarify, tow the line would work perfectly well in a nautical sense: A sailor flings rope to a receiver on land who physically tugs, pulls, and tows the line attached to the boat until the vessel is safely docked and secured. It’s a metaphor for “working hard.” Lovely, but not what the phrase means.

Instead, the true phrase is toe the line. Yes, imagine your little tootsies kissing a line on the ground. The expression comes from an old practice common in schools, the military, and other institutions where daily roll-call was the norm. Individuals had to toe the line, or ensure they were perfectly lined up, standing at attention to yell “Here!” or receive orders. The original phrase is about obeying the rules.

genie

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2018, 02:40:54 PM »
BECKON CALL   vs   BECK AND CALL


I'm at your beckon call, you can count on me. Well, actually . . .

To beckon is "to summon or call someone." So, a beckon call is a “call call.” Ok, then.

The real phrase is beck and call. The phrase is often used in the fuller form, to be at one’s beck and call, which means "to be freely available to someone and comply with their requests or demands."
This is kind of understandable, because being at somebody’s beck and call means the person is always ready to be beckoned to do something.


Luce

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Re: Words we use incorrectly
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2018, 02:34:17 AM »
All too true!

As a non-English-speaker writing in English, those mistakes are a nightmare to me.
I always, always check out almost every word I write.

Remember my necklace/neckless and sleigh/slay mistakes, Oso? You did me a great favour, then, by pointing them out to me.

What helps me a lot, is listening to an audiobook whilst reading the text.
And the BBC's subtitels, of course.

BTW, I'm in desperate need of a proofreader! Just to point out my silly mistakes.
QUEEN UNDER THE MOUNTAIN

 


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