Category Archives: Word Choice

Exculpate the lacuna


Yes, there’s been a lengthy break in posting; real life has reared its head with its normal mix of good, bad, and indifferent disruptions. We will have normal service restored shortly. And for those of you wondering whether I got … Continue reading

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No such thing as “very imperative”


Can something be “very imperative?” No, it can’t. I’ve already written about the overuse of intensifiers, our habit of tacking adverbs like very, really, and extremely onto words in an attempt to turn up the intensity of our language. While … Continue reading

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Stop manipulating me!


The older I get, the less I tolerate people using words to manipulate me. Hence this rant about a potato chip package. In nice bold letters on the back of the package, it says “It all starts with farm-grown potatoes…” … Continue reading

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Attention: “in tact” does not mean “whole” or “in one piece”


I’ve recently seen a spattering of the misuse of the phrase in tact to mean “whole,” “unbroken,” or “in one piece.” Here’s the most recent: “While most of the 1909 interior has remained in tact …” Really? The interior has … Continue reading

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Cringe-worthy words


There are some things that seem to naturally make us cringe. Fingernails across a chalkboard. The whining whirl of a dentist’s drill. The unmistakable chunky splat of a child upchucking on the bedroom carpet at 1 a.m. And then there … Continue reading

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The power of well-chosen words


This one speaks for itself:

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Words that describe, words that evaluate


Are your words objective and unbiased, or do they judge? The beauty of well-chosen words is that they convey rich information. We use oral or written language to tell stories, to paint pictures, to help others know, see, hear, taste, … Continue reading

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Spot the Writing Error–NFL Edition


Let’s start 2011 with an easy round of Spot the Error, courtesy of today’s sports news: What’s wrong with this article? Answer (posted 8 January 2011): It’s right there in the headline. The word they wanted was eke, not eek. … Continue reading

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Word confusion: Stents and stints


MEDICAL SCANDAL: Nobody in the history of medicine has ever survived having a stint put in an artery, vein, or any other body part. In fact, every reputable doctor will flat-out refuse to consider putting a stint in a patient … Continue reading

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Picking the right word: shear vs. sheer


Engineering has been described as the art of carefully selecting the right screw for a situation, and then pounding it in with a wrench. (Apologies to my three engineer brothers.) Some people apply the same approach to selecting words. A … Continue reading

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