Do diligence is a must: more misused pears

fun with homonyms

Mismatched pear of shoes?

When I saw that comment in a forum thread I wondered, “How due you due do diligence?”

It gives me an excuse to pass on some more fun with homonyms.

I suspect hasty typing accounts for that neglect of due diligence. Many losing battles with homonyms seem to result from using the more common word when the less common is correct.

A Christian devotional advised readers what to do in the throws of temptation. Throe, most often used in the plural, can mean a violent spasm of pain, or as a metaphor, a condition of agonizing effort or struggle. Against temptation, for example.

A newspaper comic strip’s author miswrote a punchline: “It didn’t phase him.” Perhaps a faze he was going through? “Phase” has many different meanings as a noun. As a verb it means to carry out a plan by phases, in the sense of distinct stages of development. “Faze” means to disrupt someone’s composure.

Confession: I almost typed “composer” instead of “composure.” I studied music long before I learned to be a librarian. For me, at least, “composer” is the more common word. My head knows the difference. My fingers? Not so much.

But misused pears are not always the choice of the more common word. Someone on Facebook asked, “Is it me, or does nobody have manors these days?” Actually, given the size of new houses over the last 20 or 30 years, lots of people have a manor, or might as well.

The word usually refers to the residence of a lord who rules a domain. Americans, who have never had a noble class, have little reason to know the word, but it can also mean any landed estate. Anyone who owns more than one landed estate therefore has manors—but not necessarily manners!

Did you know that organically grown foods are the waive of the future? Somehow I don’t think that’s what the writer meant. “Waive” is always a verb, which means either to give up a claim or right voluntarily or not strictly enforce a rule.

If waive is supposed to mean anything as a noun, the sentence would mean that in the future no one will insist on organically grown foods! If something is the wave of the future, on the other hand, it’s a metaphor for an unstoppable action of the ocean.

Sometimes, however, one word in a pair of homonyms is not noticeably more common than the other. A marketing coach wrote, “The perfect anecdote to a willy nilly, ‘I think I’m getting this right’ approach to copywriting is to commit your formula to memory.”

Granted, marketing copy is supposed to tell a story, but not necessarily an anecdote. He meant a remedy for poison or other injurious affect: “antidote.”

Here is some good advice from an environmental standpoint: get out of the habit of reaching for paper towels. As someone wrote, “Paper towels — use a tea towel, instead. If you worry about your tea towel stains not coming out or an odor lingering on them, simply soak overnight in a white vinegar and water solution, then wash them. The vinegar will illuminate any odor and it’s better to use than bleach.”

I agree that using cloth towels is usually preferable to using paper towels, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to shed light on stains or odors! I would prefer to get rid of them—eliminate them if possible.

And what are we to make of an email that circulated about some cause on Facebook? The subject line was “A Heartbraking Story of Abuse.” The story will make your heart gradually slow down and perhaps come to a complete stop? I chose not to read that one! I don’t much want my heart broken, either, but the headline should have used “heartbreaking.”

I hope I don’t come across as irritated. I’m just having fun with homonyms. I don’t want to be like the person who wrote, “I don’t have patients for stupid people today.” Doctors have patients—whether they have patience or not.

We all have impatience at times. Some of us will plant impatiens in our gardens come spring.

I haven’t seen that pair mixed up yet, probably because I don’t read a lot about gardening, but I won’t be surprised if I do.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by gadl.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *