Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In an unrelated note, it looks like the anthology I wrote a story for last year is on track for publication in the next few months. The anthology will be called The World Outside the Window. The concept is that the main character of each story sees something or someone outside the window in the courtyard below or the road beyond. All the stories relate to what those characters see (or remember) happening outside. To add a twist, the stories cross genres, including science fiction, romance, and other types.
My (sci-fi) story is called, Fallen Star, Rising Star.
I'll follow up with more details as I get them.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Tortuous vs. Torturous
Right: We undertook a tortuous journey.
Right: We undertook a torturous journey.
Tortuous means winding, twisting, or convoluted, while torturous refers to causing pain and suffering (torture). Sometimes there can be overlap in meaning. For example, describing a tortuous road as torturous imparts the added nuance of danger or mental anguish. Still, it’s important to understand the difference in meaning, to ensure that you always use the correct word.
Jist vs. Gist
Wrong: That’s the jist of the situation.
Right: That’s the gist of the situation.
Jist is a simple misspelling of gist, which is the central meaning or essence of an idea, discussion, or legal argument.
Come back soon for more words.
Come back soon for more words.
Walla vs. Voilà
Wrong: We turned the corner and walla, there it was.
Right: We turned the corner and voilà, there it was.
Voilà (or voila) is French for “see there.” It’s used to call attention to something or express satisfaction or success. Walla is simply an attempt to spell it phonetically. But even that fails, because the correct pronunciation of voila is vwa-LA (not wa-LA). The v is not silent.
Eldest vs. Elder / Youngest vs. Younger
Wrong: The eldest of their two daughters is getting married next month.
Right: The elder of their two daughters is getting married next month.
Use elder or younger when referring to one of only two; use eldest or youngest when referring to one of three or more.
Stay tuned for even more words next time.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Anyway vs. Any way
Wrong: You can have the eggs cooked anyway you want them.
Right: You can have the eggs cooked any way you want them.
Wrong: It doesn’t matter. We’re not going to
Right: It doesn’t matter. We’re not going to
Anyway is an adverb that means regardless, or nonetheless. The phrase any way means “in any manner” or “by any method.”
Co-locate vs. Collocate
Wrong: We need to co-locate all our servers in one data center.
Right: We need to collocate all our servers in one data center.
If you’re involved in the computer industry, you’ve probably come across the word co-locate from time to time. Unfortunately it’s a phonetic misspelling of collocate, which means to place together (especially side-by-side) or to arrange in the proper order.
I'll have more words for you soon.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Present company accepted vs. Present company excepted
Wrong: Everyone has lost somebody—present company accepted.
Right: Everyone has lost somebody—present company excepted.
The phrase present company excepted means all but those in the presence of the speaker.
Phase vs. Faze
Wrong: That’s just a faze they’re going through.
Right: That’s just a phase they’re going through.
Wrong: His words didn’t phase her at all.
Right: His words didn’t faze her at all.
Faze is a verb that means to disturb, fluster, or disconcert. A phase (noun), on the other hand, is a temporary state of being, a stage in a process of change. It’s a rare parent who isn’t fazed by the phases his or her teenager manifests.
Come back soon for even more words and phrases.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
God vs. god
Wrong: Mars was the Roman God of war.
Right: Mars was the Roman god of war.
God (capitalized) should refer only to the one supreme being worshipped by a monotheistic religion. When a religion worships multiple gods (love, fire, storms, etc.), write the word god in lower case. Similarly, when used in a humorous manner (such as referring to the golfing gods), use lower case.
Oogle vs. Ogle
Wrong: Do you have to oogle every pretty girl that walks by?
Right: Do you have to ogle every pretty girl that walks by?
Oogle is simply a misspelling (and mispronunciation) of ogle (OH-gul), which means to look or stare at flirtatiously, amorously, or impertinently.
More next time. Come back soon.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Childish vs. Childlike
Wrong: She displayed a childish innocence.
Right: She displayed a childlike innocence.
Childlike refers to the guileless, trusting, innocent nature of young children. On the other hand, adding the –ish suffix attaches unfavorable connotations of immaturity: silliness, poutiness, selfishness, and the like.
Nucular vs. Nuclear
Wrong: Nucular weapons are a bane on mankind’s existence.
Right: Nuclear weapons are a bane on mankind’s existence.
There is no such word as nucular (and it’s pronounced
More next time.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Complex vs. complicated
Wrong: Don’t make it sound more complex than it is.
Right: Don’t make it sound more complicated than it is.
Both complex and complicated refer to things that are composed of many parts or are difficult to understand. To a large extent they’re synonyms. But there’s often a subtle difference in how the two words are used. Something that is complex is innately intricate or perplexing. On the other hand, a relatively simple process can be made complicated by poor directions. A nuclear reactor is complex, but trying to herd cats is perhaps more complicated than it is complex. Remember, artful writing is all about nuance.
Intrical vs. integral
Wrong: Clean water is an intrical part of the ecosystem.
Right: Clean water is an integral part of the ecosystem.
Intrical is simply a common misspelling (and mispronunciation) of integral.
More next time. Stay tuned.