Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Few More Often Misused Words

Allude and Refer

Allude means to refer to something indirectly or covertly. Refer, without qualification, implies referring to something directly, by naming. Frequently allude is misused to mean "refer directly," but this is an abuse of an otherwise useful, specific word.

Anxious and Eager

Anxious means "troubled" or "worried." Eager means "having keen interest" or "impatient expectancy." When anxious is used to describe someone's expectancy, it is often incorrectly used to mean "eager," which has a far more positive connotation. One may be anxious about an impending report card, but one would be eager to go on a long-awaited vacation.

Stationary and Stationery

Stationary is an adjective that means "not moving." Stationery is a noun that means "writing paper and envelopes." It really is amazing how often these two are confused. Please check now to see if your stationery is stationary.

Practicable and Practical

Practicable means "usable," while practical means "useful." Not all practicable things are practical, and not all practical things are practicable.

Passed and Past

Passed is a past tense verb. Past can be a noun, adjective, adverb, or preposition -- never a verb. That twit in the Honda has not past you at 70 mph, he passed you.

Loath and Loathe

Loath is an adjective, meaning "disinclined" or "reluctant." Loathe is a verb, meaning "feel hatred or disgust for." Confusion often arises about not only what they mean but how they are pronounced. Loath has a hard th sound, while loathe has a soft th sound.

Lightening and Lightning

Lightening refers to something illuminating or brightening. Lightning is what is accompanied by thunder during storms. Also please remember - you CANNOT watch thunder and lightning! Lightning, yes; thunder, no!!

Ingenious and Ingenuous

Ingenious means "clever and inventive." Ingenuous means "open, frank, and sincere" and also "naive, unsophisticated." The words have similar origins, hence the similar spelling, but their meanings have been distinct for centuries. Politicians often reveal themselves to be neither.

No comments:

Post a Comment