Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plethora o' peeves

My former-hubby-now-husband (whose father hates the word hubby) alerted me to this list from the 6th Floor, a blog of the New York Times Magazine:

If I may point out my favorites:
  • anxious/eager. See my earlier post on this topic.
  • behaviors/insights. When, and why, did these become plural?
  • chaise lounge. This is INCORRECT. As much as I wish I spoke French, I don't. Yet. But I do know this much: the term is chaise LONGUE and it is pronounced something like this: shez long. It means long chair, not lounge chair, although it's obvious why this confuses people. 
  • closure. You may get closure by confronting that jerky boyfriend who dumped you, but when we have 3 feet of snow, you get school closings and road closings.
  • comprised of. No. It's comprise or composed of. Comprise means to encompass or include, so a zoo comprises animals or it is composed of animals but it is not comprised of animals.
  • deplane/detrain. Um, last time I checked, plane and train are not verbs. Therefore, neither are deplane and detrain. The flight attendants don't say, "Have your planing passes ready before you plane." So why do they say, "Make sure you have all your belongings before you deplane"? Something wrong with exit?
  • disinterested/uninterested. This one I learned from my husband. If you're bored out of your mind in a work meeting, you are uninterested. If you have no stake in the group that's meeting or the business they're conducting, you are disinterested; you're neutral, unbiased.
  • enormity. This has nothing to do with size. That would be enormousness, or better, magnitude. Enormity refers to outrageousness. 
  • farther/furtherFarther indicates actual physical distance: I live much farther away from the equator than I'd like to. Further is for more metaphorical use: I do not want to explain any further why I still live in a place with nine-month-long winters.
  • gift (v.). This is WHAT you give someone, not how you do it. You give it. You give the gift. We do not need a new word for this.
  • intensive purposes. If people who say this would just stop and think about it, they would realize it doesn't make sense. The phrase is "for all intents and purposes." (Which, now that I think of it, is kind of redundant. Why don't we just say "for all intents"?)
  • irregardless. Not a word. You are likely confusing irrespective and regardless, which can be used interchangeably but which should not be merged to form a new nonsense word.
  • literally. Most of the time, I hear this used to mean figuratively, which is its opposite. If you did not actually have molten flesh dropping on the ground in front of you during yesterday's heatwave, you can't say, "My face was literally melting off!"
  • penultimate. It simply means next-to-last. December 30 is the penultimate day of the year.
  • signage. Why do we need this word? How does it differ from signs?
  • towards. This is British usage. Here in the U.S. it's just toward.
  • unique. Yes, something can be unique, which means one of a kind. It cannot, however, be "kind of unique" or "very unique." That's like being kind of pregnant. Either it is or it isn't. 
Please feel free to share your favorites too!

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