Monday, August 3, 2015

wheelbarrel/wheelbarrow: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Monday, August 3, 2015

wheelbarrel/wheelbarrow
One very old meaning of the word “barrow” is an open container for carrying people or goods. The earliest barrows were carried by two people holding handles on either end. Add a wheel to one end and you have a wheelbarrow which can be handled by a single person. The word is also sometimes applied to two-wheeled versions.

The word has nothing to do with barrels.

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This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

pawn off/palm off: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Sunday, August 2, 2015

pawn off/palm off
Somebody defrauds you by using sleight of hand (literal or figurative) to “palm” the object you wanted and give you something inferior instead. The variant spelling “pawn off” is both long-established and very popular, but makes little logical sense.

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This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

scone/sconce: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Saturday, August 1, 2015

scone/sconce
If you fling a jam-covered biscuit at the wall and it sticks, the result may be a “wall scone”; but if you are describing a wall-mounted light fixture, the word you want is sconce.


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This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Friday, July 31, 2015

altogether/all together: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday, July 31, 2015

altogether/all together
“Altogether” is an adverb meaning “completely,” “entirely.” For example: “When he first saw the examination questions, he was altogether baffled.” “All together,” in contrast, is a phrase meaning “in a group.” For example: “The wedding guests were gathered all together in the garden.” Undressed people are said in informal speech to be “in the altogether” (perhaps a shortening of the phrase “altogether naked”).

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This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book! (http://tinyurl.com/commonerrorsbook)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

not: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, July 30, 2015

not
You need to put “not” in the right spot in a sentence to make it say what you intend. “Not all fraternity members are drunks” means some are, but “All fraternity members are not drunks” means none of them is.
 

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This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

substance-free: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Wednesday, July 29, 2015

substance-free
An administrator at our university once announced that his goal was a “substance-free” campus, which I suppose fit in with the fad of the period for “virtual education.” What he really meant was, of course, a campus free of illegal drugs and alcohol, designated “controlled substances” in the law. This is a very silly expression, but if he’d just said “sober and straight” he would have sounded too censorious. How about “drug- and alcohol-free”?



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This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

caddy-corner/catty-corner, cater-corner, kitty-corner: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Tuesday, July 28, 2015

caddy-corner/catty-corner, cater-corner, kitty-corner 
This expression, meaning “diagonally opposite,” was formed from a misspelling in English of the French word quatre (“four”) prefixed to “corner.” Although the word has nothing to do with cats or kittens, in various dialects all three spellings are acceptable: “catty,” “cater,” or “kitty.”

But unless you have somebody holding your golf clubs permanently stationed in the corner of your room, you shouldn’t use the spelling “caddy corner.”



___________
This is the tenth year of the Common Errors in English Usage calendar. To celebrate, we are bringing back some of our favorite interesting, funny, but sometimes merely silly entries through the years before going on hiatus in 2016.

Enjoy the calendar? Buy the book!