Category: Vocabulary

Give the Gift of Pedantry

Posted on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 6:43 pm

If there is a logophile—word lover—on your holiday gift list, you can’t go wrong with What in the Word? by Charles Harrington Elster. Elster is a formidable scholar, but he has written a book that is fun to read, yet packed with information. Scattered throughout the book’s seven chapters are astute quotations, “fascinating facts,” and …

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Things We Will Never Say

Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, at 10:49 am

There are certain words or phrases that seem to cast a spell over people. All at once some expression is all the rage, and there is no escaping it. It is hard to say anything positive about this particular manifestation of herd mentality but we’ll try: It’s better than a lynch mob. Have you noticed …

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Media Watch

Posted on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, at 10:51 pm

What better way to begin a Media Watch column than with headlines? Here are two recent ones that got our attention: • “Bacteria has sickened more than 100.” • “Foreclosure crisis makes taught thriller.” “Bacteria has sickened” is incorrect because has is singular and bacteria is the plural of bacterium. If the headline writer balked …

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Test Your Vocabulary

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, at 11:52 am

“The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the …

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You Can Look It Up

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, at 8:59 pm

What happens when you come across a word you don’t know? Do you just keep reading? Most people do. They believe they can figure out a word’s meaning by looking at the sentence and using common sense. Maybe they’re right … but what if they’re wrong? Here is a passage from a profile of a …

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