Sunday, June 8, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 37)

And here we have yet more words that are often mangled in writing:

To coin a phrase

Wrong: All’s well that ends well, to coin a phrase.
Right: All’s well that ends well, to borrow a phrase.

To coin a phrase means to create (coin) a new phrase; yet it’s most often used when reiterating a cliché. If you’re going to coin a phrase, then—please—actually coin one.

Moral vs. morale

Wrong: That victory was a great moral booster.
Right: That victory was a great morale booster.

Morale (rhymes with horse corral) refers to one’s mental and emotional state regarding confidence, cheerfulness, zeal, etc. A moral (rhymes with coral reef) relates to the principles and rules of proper conduct and the difference between right and wrong. (“The moral of the story is….”) One can be a moral or amoral or immoral person and yet still be the company morale officer.

I'll have more words for you next time. Y'all come back now, y'hear?


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