Ever and Never

Ever and never are adverbs employed in strictly defined ways. Here are the parameters of usage for the two terms.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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Sort and Out of Sorts

A second meaning of sort is “a measure of weight for figs and raisins,” not a use likely to be encountered even by a lover of early English texts.

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Top 10 Confused English Words [U-Z]

Having come to the end of the alphabet with my series of “words often confused with one another,” I find myself hard-pressed to come up with a final set of ten for the remaining letters, U-Z. I can’t think of any for U or Z, but here are some for V, W, and Y.

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Certainty vs. Certitude

What’s the difference between certainty and certitude? My hunch was that they’re interchangeable, but it turns out that they have a slight but significant difference in connotation—of that I am certain.

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If You Don’t Know Jack, You’re a Jackwagon

A recent news article prompted me to research the use of jack as a catch-all term: Apparently, a pair of pot smugglers ignored the sensible admonition “Don’t get high on your own supply” and, in a state of THC-fueled paranoia, called 911 to complain that while transporting their precious cargo, they were being harassed by undercover police officers in nearby vehicles. The caller referred to the alleged persecutors—probably just fellow motorists perturbed by the unsteady hand of the man at the wheel—as “jackwagons.”

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“Ply” and Other Words from the Fold

Looking into the origin of ply as a result of thinking about the expressions “plying [someone] with drinks” or “plying [someone] for information,” I found etymological connections to an interesting variety of terms. Here are some words related to ply based on its Latin ancestor.

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“Confused With” and “Confused About”

More often, the choice of which preposition to use is idiomatic. That is, speakers use a particular preposition with a certain word because its use has been established by custom.

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30 Words Containing the Letters “sm”

After writing a post about the suffix -ism, I explored the class of words that include the letters s and m in sequence in which the letters are not a consonant blend (as in small) or in which the s is not at the end of a prefix (as in besmirch and dismiss); with some exceptions (specified), they have in common an origin in Greek.

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English Titles of Nobility

Terms for members of the aristocracy are often applied by extension to other, often colloquial, usage. Here are titles of English nobility and some of their other connotations.

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Using “Pharma Bro” and Other Pop-Culture Epithets

Not long after Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli stepped out of the media spotlight, the notoriously greedy former pharmaceutical-company executive briefly popped back onto the popular-culture radar to helpfully illustrate how epithets have evolved (or devolved, as some may judge).

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