Banished words list: fun for a slow news day




You have probably noticed an article or two about the annual banished words list. Did you notice that it came out on January 1? The public relations department of Lake Superior State University has issued the list since 1976. It’s a lot of fun for word lovers. New Year’s Day is a slow news day, so when the list was new, it seemed a good day to get some press. I thought it would be fun to look back at previous lists to see if our society has actually stopped using any of the words. … Continue reading






Rime thyme




A wicked witch long ago cast a bad spell on the English language. Now there are hardly any common words that don’t rhyme with other words that have a very different spelling. Some people get confused. George Hearst, father of journalist William Randolph Hearst, ran for governor of California in 1882 despite having almost no education. In defense against the jeers of political rivals, he said, My opponents say that I haven’t the book learning that they possess. They say I can’t spell. They say I spell bird, b-u-r-d. If b-u-r-d doesn’t spell bird, what in the hell does it … Continue reading






Air on the side of caution: more misused pears




That’s advice I saw somewhere about how not to fall for scams: “If you suspect the email could be legitimate, air on the side of caution anyway.” It’s an error of course, not an airor. The expression is err on the side of caution. Air and err are two homonyms that someone mixed up. Something I like to call misused pears. (Although actually the preferred pronunciation of “err” according to the American Heritage Dictionary is ur rather than air.) Lots of people err when typing, but not on the side of caution. I wouldn’t advocate being so cautious as to … Continue reading






Do diligence is a must: more misused pears




When I saw that comment in a forum thread I wondered, “How due you due do diligence?” Someone (or someone’s fingers) was having trouble 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 … Continue reading






Brother, can you spare a digm?




Oh come on. You know what a digm is. You probably have at least one in your pocket. It’s worth ten cents. It’s time for a paradime shift! Here are some sentences full of rhyming words that decided to trade endings. How quickly can you read them? Did Herman really bict his neighbor’s ear? A jury mite indight him. She was aglough that her boe had lots of deau, but full of wow when she saw he was sough shalloe. … Continue reading