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Commonly Misused Words

My wife sent me something on Facebook from a Harvard professor named Steven Pinker, who lists commonly misused words. Although the article, from Business Insider, is dated Dec. 17, 2015, it is nonetheless accurate to today.

Here are eight, which include some I’ve misused.

Adverse means “detrimental” and does not mean averse (“having a strong feeling of opposition) or disinclined (“lacking desire or willingness).

Begs the question means “assumes what it should be proving,” not “raises the question.” This is one I would misuse if I used it, but I don’t use it because it’s a cliché and I believe you should avoid clichés like the plague.

Speaking of which, Cliché is a noun, not an adjective. The adjective is clichéd.

Bemused means “bewildered.” It does not mean amused (“pleasurably entertained”)

Hung means “suspended.” It does not mean “suspended from the neck until dead.” That is hang.

Ironic means “uncannily incongruent.” It does not mean inconvenient (“no easily accessible; untimely; not suiting one’s needs”)  or unfortunate (“suffering from bad luck; unfavorable; regrettable; marked by misfortune; sad”). Not is irony coincidence (“something that occurs by chance”).

Nonplussed means “stunned” or “bewildered.” It does not mean bored (“made weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions,etc.”) or unimpressed (“not affected deeply or strongly in mind or feelings”). This is one I have misused.

Phenomena is a plural noun. The singular is phenomenon. Phenomenons is incorrect.

Until next time! Use the right words!


January 17, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

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