usingtherightwords

Guaranteed to improve your English

He Was a Loser in More Ways than One


I head on the radio today a feature on “The Heidi & Frank Show” in which they read three stories and asked viewers to call in and pick which one was “Loser of the Week.”

The three stories:

1) A guy tried to kiss his pet poisonous cottonmouth snake near its mouth, and it bit him.

2) A guy in Buffalo, N.Y., was cited for Driving While Intoxicated — right after he left the courthouse in which he had pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated.

3) A guy advertised on Craigslist that he had “legitimate counterfeit money” for sale. He ended up selling said money to an undercover cop and was arrested.

I actually thought the drunk driver was the biggest loser of the three, but I want to point out the moron who used an oxymoron.

Oxymoron is defined as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” Jumbo shrimp, original copy, definite maybe, pretty ugly and working vacation are good examples.

So is legitimate counterfeit.

So is my brother. He attended Occidental College, which makes him an Oxy moron.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

Advertisements

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Correct Words are “Flesh Tunnel”


To use the right words, you’ve got to know what are the right words.

Most recent case in point: I heard on the radio (Heidi and Frank, incidentally) that plastic surgeons are receiving many clients who want work done on their earlobes. These people, usually when they were younger, stretched out the lobes with metal or plastic hoops or spools. Now, usually because they either are interviewing for a new job or are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t like it, they want their lobes fixed.

The hole they created is called a flesh tunnel, and they aren’t new. You probably have seen pictures of Africans in National Geographic wearing such things, often made of bone or stone. Many ancient peoples, including the Harappans (ancient Pakistanis) and Egyptians wore them, as did other African and Totonac (Mexican) people before the West adopted it.

Some might think that flesh tunnel refers to another part of the body. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heidi and Frank: Grammarians (Who Would Have Thought?)


Today, I listened to one of my favorite morning drive-time radio programs, “The Heidi & Frank Show.” It was a repeat, although I had not previously heard this particular segment. Heidi Hamilton (not her real name) and Frank Kramer were talking about words and how people misuse them because they don’t know what they mean.

Naturally, I paid attention. Here are the four examples I heard:

terrific — Frank pointed out that most people use this word to describe something positive. But it means just the opposite: to evoke terror.  To illustrate the point, Frank said, you could say “9-11 was terrific” and you’d be correct.

In listening to the explanation, it made sense to me: Horrific means to evoke horror, so why wouldn’t terrific mean to evoke terror?

I looked it up: Terrific means “very bad” and “frightful.” It also means “unusually fine” and “magnificent,” so Kramer was correct. He also said it’s the only word in the English language that means opposites, but that’s not true: Left could mean someone is gone or remains.

nauseous — People use this word to describe something that makes them feel ill (I would use the word nauseating). But the word has two definitions: “causing nausea or disgust” (nauseating has the same definition) and “affected with nausea or disgust.”

In my dictionary, a usage note says anyone who thinks only the first definition is correct is wrong.

conversate —  Kramer correctly pointed out that it’s not a word. He didn’t say what was the correct word: converse.

hot-water heater — A caller brought this one up, which impressed the two so much, they gave him a prize. The point was, if the water’s already hot, why does it need heating? It should be called a water heater or a cold-water heater.

I would have liked to call in and mention first annual, but I was driving (at the time, I didn’t know I was listening to a repeat).

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

July 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Can’t Cancel Christmas


The other day, I heard my favorite morning radio talk show hosts, Heidi and Frank, take a call from someone who, as a child, misbehaved enough that the parents took down all the Christmas decorations and returned the presents. The caller said her parents “canceled Christmas.”

Cancel means, in this sense, “to call off, usually without expectation of conducting or performing at a later time.”

But you can’t cancel Christmas. It comes every Dec. 25, no matter what.

What you can do, however, is cancel the celebration associated with the day, and that’s what the caller meant.

Too bad that’s not what she said.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: