Category: Definitions

Striking the Surplus from Tautologies

Posted on Monday, April 24, 2017, at 11:37 am

The English language includes the tools it needs to communicate with beauty, depth, and precision. Like any other healthy entity, it also moves most swiftly without extra weight. In the world of words, flabby noun phrases are known as tautologies. Merriam-Webster online defines a tautology as “1a: needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word.” …

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Whether to Give a Hoot About Moot

Posted on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 9:22 am

Those who follow the evolution of English understand that some words with a once-fixed identity can get pulled into the pool of common use and begin to lose their form. Some words become a new creation. Others obtain a duality that makes them hard to discern. One such word is moot. Dating back to the …

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Choices vs. Options and Alternatives

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at 10:33 am

If a salesperson presents you with three inkjet printers to consider for purchase, is he or she giving you choices—or options? These two nouns were once more distinct from each other, but the line has blurred as common usage continues evolving. Today, you will not lose meaning or clarity when using either word to refer …

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A Fine Distinction

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, at 11:57 pm

How valid can a rule be if nobody knows or cares about it anymore? That all depends on what the definition of “nobody” is. A lot of people I’ve been around seem to feel “nobody” applies to just about everybody 15-plus years younger or older than they are. Generational outcasts—the nerds, wonks, and misfits—also get …

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Spell Check Overreach

Posted on Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at 3:59 pm

My spell check has been drinking again. It just told me “déjà vu” should be “deejay.” Everyone who uses Word software probably has some form of spell check. Mine—I call him “SC”—also makes occasionally helpful (but often just surreal) suggestions about grammar and punctuation. To be fair, SC sometimes saves me from my own carelessness. …

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