Thursday, July 17, 2008

Slips of Speech -- Did You Know How To Use Condone?

Here are a few more good words that modern American regularly butcher. Let's put our best speech forward, shall we?

condone should not be used for make amends or atone. To condone means "to overlook and offense, or forgive one for it." Atone signifies "to make expiation of amends for ." One may condone an insult; another atones for a crime.

considerable should not be used when considerably is meant. The former means " more than a little" or "of noteworthy size or amount," the latter, "in a marked degree"; "to a great extent."

contemptible, contemptuous are distinct in their meaning. Contemptible characterizes that which is despicable and deserving of contempt. Contemptuous indicates the the manifestation of disdain or scornful superiority; haughtiness. To refuse the hospitality of one's home it a relative is a contemptible act, and to receive her contemptuously is not to behave as a gentlewoman.

convene is frequently misused for convoke. Congress convenes in special session only when it is convoked by the President.

couple should not be used to designate more than two. Couple means "two of a kind; a pair," so avoid "He has a couple of dollars in the bank."

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