Anorexia, Meet Orthorexia

The other evening I heard the word orthorexia for the first time. It’s a newly coined word meaning Excessive concern with consuming a diet considered to be correct in some respect, often involving the elimination of foods or food groups supposed to be harmful to health. On the pattern of anorexia nervosa, one may now … Read more

How Do You Pronounce “Mozart”?

In some cultures names are held to be so important and personal that members of the culture keep them secret from strangers. Even in Western society, names stir emotions. It bothers us to see our names misspelled or hear them mispronounced. Journalists try hard to avoid offending the subjects of their stories by doing either. … Read more

Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill

One of our readers used this expression in a recent comment: make a mountain out of a mole hole I assumed that the writer had intended to write the common expression make a mountain out of a molehill. I was about to shrug it off as a typo and move on when I thought I’d … Read more

“Juridical” and “Juridicial”

Peter Ki asks: What’s the difference between juridical process and juridicial process? My first reaction to the question was “juridicial” isn’t even a word! However, juridicial is a word and a Google search brought up several thousand uses of it, although the list of hits was headed by Google’s little red Did you mean: followed … Read more

An Exercise in Ambiguity

I noticed this headline in the list of breaking news on the Yahoo landing page: • Sotomayor wins over GOP backers after smooth hearings At first I read the verb wins as the main verb and over GOP backers as a prepositional phrase. Read that way, the meaning of the headline was that Sotomayor had defeated … Read more

Sideways and Clockwise

A reader seeks to understand two uses of the English word wise: Can you please suggest how can we use the word “wise”. The meaning of “wise” is related to wisdom (Having or prompted by wisdom or discernment).   But some times I use this when some thing needs to be done in a way. for … Read more

Confusing “Passed” with “Past”

Reader Peggy Lanahan asks Is it correct to say, “how does the food always get passed the bib? or past the bib”? The frequent confusion between the words passed and past is understandable. They are pronounced alike and have similar meanings. Careful writers need to find some trick for remembering the difference. Both words derive … Read more

A Night in the MVSEVM

A reader, noticing the way the word museum is engraved on some statues and entrances, writes: I am wondering why the word Museum is spelled Mvsevm . . . on many older things like statues. Until the twentieth century, classical Latin was an indispensable part of the school curriculum. Anyone who had been to school … Read more

Charles’s Pen and Jesus’ Name

Commenting on “When to Form a Plural with an Apostrophe,” Luke S. raised another question: What gripes me . . . is the misuse of the apostrophe to form the possessive without the extra ‘s’: “Charles’ pen” needs correction to “Charles’s pen.” Ah, Luke, would it were so simple as that! Even the Chicago Manual … Read more

The Freelance Writing “X” Factor

All right, let’s go straight to the point: there is no writing tip in this post, and yes it contains a plug for a paid product. However, I am not writing this for money, but rather because I think the product could be useful and worth it for many of you guys. The link you … Read more

That Dark Type is Called “Boldface”

In comparing style manuals, I came across these instructions: Never underline text. If you need to call attention to certain words, use body copy that is bolded or italic. –St Anselm style guide “Bolded”? We talk about italic type, serif type, and sanserif type. What’s wrong with “boldface?” It’s not as if “bolded” saves any … Read more

The Four Sounds of the Spelling OU

In response to the post on “all a rouse,” Paul Wilkins wrote I am wondering why people are misusing rouse to mean ruse. What other spellings of common words are there that would cause them to think that rouse is pronounced in the same was as ruse? The only only one that comes to mind … Read more