Eggcorns, a new word for misused pears

Children eventually stop growing. The English language does not. Most new words catch popular fancy for a while, and then drop out of site. Quite a few eventually get recognized by major dictionaries. Merriam-Webster just added 1,700 new words. “Eggcorn” now takes its place alongside malapropism, spoonerism, and mondegreen to describe a losing battle with using or understanding words. A malapropism substitutes a completely wrong word, as when Mrs. Malaprop (in the third act of The Rivals by Richard Sheridan) declares, “Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice … 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

Bare with me: more misused pears

I was on live chat with a technician, and at one point he had to look something up. So he typed, “Bare with me.” Well! I’m pretty selective when it comes to either making that invitation or accepting it. Besides, it’s much more fun when we’re in the same room. Here’s another instance where a pear (oops, pair) of homonyms tripped someone up. He chose the wrong word. He meant, “Bear with me.” Bear as a verb has numerous meanings. Among others, it means to tolerate or endure. In this case, “put up with my absence for a while.” Bear … Continue reading

Evolution of words

Our word “blue” comes from an old “Common Romance” word blavus. So? Blavus seems to come from the Latin flavus, which means yellow. Over the years, neither the spelling, nor the pronunciation, nor the meaning of words stays put. “Baroque” comes from a word that refers to a misshaped pearl. Music and art critics of the early and middle 18th century used it to refer to the style of earlier generations that they considered unnatural, overly ornate. In other words, these critics intended “baroque” as a derogatory term. It referred to music, architecture, paintings, etc. that violated “modern” notions of … Continue reading

Reigning in misused pears

Someone riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn carriage reins in the horse to control its direction. Elizabeth II reigns in the United Kingdom. So what does the following come-on for a marketing instruction program mean? “How to help reign in your online audience and 
keep them from doing price comparisons when 
considering your product or service.” Is the marketer supposed to control the audience like so many horses? Or be its monarch? Reign no longer means rule. I suspect someone put in the extra letter because it looks more impressive, or something. Rein and reign are not simply a … Continue reading