Friday, October 31, 2008

Mighty Aphrodite

Mighty is a word that should be used with care.
If you use mighty as in "I'm mighty glad to see you," it will either date you, as someone who actually worked on the original Foghorn Leghorn comics, make you sound Southern, but cheesy Southern, not the cool Southern that you would like to be, or make you sound stupid.

The only way you could convincingly use the expressive mighty is if you are writing for a network television show and you write a line to be said by someone who is rescued out of, say, a well, right before a cliff-hanging commercial break, as in:

Brock wipes the two inch layer of mud from his eyes, reaches for his cowboy hat, and says, "I'm mighty glad to see you!"

Otherwise, keep mighty to be used as an adjective when describing something of great power, skill, strength, or force, such as Aphrodite

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Material Girl

Materialize actually means to "make material" or to "invest with or regard as material."

It does not mean "to take place or to happen."

So, when you say"the party never materialized," you are just plain wrong, and should have been home reading fine literature that night instead of worrying about some silly party.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mannish Boy

Forgetting for a moment that we all love Mckinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy Waters, who masterfully rendition of Mannish Boy could be titled nothing else, the words mannish and manly are not synonymous.

Manly signifies of or becoming to a man, man-like, and also manfully. Mannish means masculine, or suitable to a man. We characterize a brave and courageous man as manly and a woman's masculine attire as mannish.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Likely Pet Peeve

Here is another misuse of words that is on the top third of my Teeth Gritter List.

Likely. Liable. They are not interchangeable. Really. And liable is not a fancy way to say likely, and no, it doesn't make you sound more Southern. You won't be increasing your grammatical status or your cool by saying liable when you mean likely.

"He's not here today, but he's liable to be in tomorrow." This is wrong. Say instead, "He's not here today, but he's likely to be in tomorrow."
Liable is used chiefly with regard to answering the consequence of an act that is likely to be the cause of trouble; as in, "The arrest of one who exceeds the speed-limit is likely, and may render him liable to a fine."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Am I Idle or Lazy?

The words idle and lazy are not synonymous. Let us be precise in our speech and use them correctly.

Idleness describes the state of one given to empty, vain, or useless effort. It does not mean inaction, but the absence of useful action. This differs from laziness, which is indisposition to exertion, indolence, or a state of sluggish inactivity.

I supposed laziness is a moral step-up from idleness, as laziness can be a temporary state or a habit which can be corrected, while idleness seems to me to be more of a permanent state or character flaw.

This is open to debate. Your ideas?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Knitted vs. Knit

"The stockings were knitted with care by Grandma."

No, no, a thousand times no.
"The stockings were knit with care by Grandma."

If you speak this way you might as well have putted your sippy cup on the table, you are So Very Preschool.

A more common use of this phrase might be, "The stockings were knit with care by a lead-laden machine in China." In any case, a dollar fine for misuse of this verb would be fair.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't "Kid" Around

The word kid means a few different things.

It can mean a baby or young goat, which is the original meaning of the word. It also is used as a verb meaning "to tease or joke around with" or as a noun for a child.

Although I don't object to the use of the word to describe a light joke, I do prefer to call a human child a child, and a young goat a kid.

I try not to say, " I have to go pick up my kids" as I like to identify with humans, not cloven-hoofed creatures with slitty pupils.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jealousy, Envy, Suspicion

Jealousy, envy and suspicion. These are powerful words, and distinct in meaning, so let us use them correctly.

Jealousy fears to lose what it has, envy is pained that another should receive what it wants for itself, and suspicion is directed toward one who has the power and/or the will to hurt another in some way.

Rival suitors are jealous of each other; competitors are suspicious of each other's good faith.

Do not say that you are jealous of your neighbor's new wood floors, when you are really full of envy.
You may however be jealous of your teenage son's basketball skills when he begins to beat you in four out of five games when you used to regularly trounce him.

You may receive a suspicious package in the mail, but do not look suspiciously upon your neighbor's new wood floors unless you are a police officer and you think the floors may be stolen.
Instead, keep yourself commandment-clean and look on the floors with admiration.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Labor

Labor is sometimes erroneously restricted to physical toil. Properly, labor may be physical or mental but must have some useful end. Toil signifies oppressive or harassing labor, or hard continuous work that taxes the bodily strength or mental powers.

Here is a quote that helps explain it:

"Of all the wastes, the greatest waste that you can commit is the waste of labor. No man minds work or its being hard if it comes to something. Perhaps you think "to waste the labor of men is not to kill them?"
--
John Ruskin, Work