Synonyms for “Works”

Several words available to writers seeking to succinctly refer to the entirety of a person’s artistic or literary works are listed and described in this post. Canon, often confused with cannon, is from the Greek noun kanon, “meaning rule,” and has multiple meanings. In this context, it refers to a body of works generally accepted … Read more

Metaphorical Usage and Scare Quotes

Writers often mistakenly believe they are being helpful when, in the act of using a word or phrase in a nonliteral sense, they frame the term in quotation marks intended to alert readers, “This usage is not being employed in its original sense!” However, because readers generally are able to make the cognitive leap to … Read more

Words Based on “Portare”

The Latin verb portare, meaning “carry,” is the basis of many words pertaining to moving things from one place to another, as detailed in the discussion below. The direct descendant of portare is the verb port; the noun port, meaning “harbor” or “opening,” is distantly related, with a common proto-Indo-European root. More specific compounds pertaining … Read more

45 Idioms with “Roll”

Roll, ultimately derived from the Latin noun rota, meaning “wheel,” is the basis of numerous idioms about movement, many of which are listed and defined below. 1. a rolling stone gathers no moss: a proverb meaning that one who remains active will not become complacent or hidebound 2–4. get rolling or get/start the ball rolling: … Read more

Vocabulary Quiz #4: Idiomatic Expressions

Each of these sentences includes an erroneous version of an idiomatic expression based on misunderstanding of the phrase’s meaning. Revise each sentence by using the expression’s standard form. 1. His resignation played a factor in the controversy. 2. She’s simply grasping for straws. 3. His compliment was a real boost in the arm for my … Read more

3 More Cases of Dangling Modifiers

In each of the sentences below, the subject of the main clause is not logically associated with the subordinate clause, so the former must be recast to begin with the noun or pronoun in the sentence that the latter applies to, or the sentence must be revised so that a subject that pertains to the … Read more

12 More Military Terms Used in Civilian Contexts

Following up on a post about words that originally pertained (or in one sense pertain) to military units but have developed nonmilitary connotations based on that sense, here are additional terms referring to military individuals or groups that have civilian senses as well. 1. captain: ultimately from Latin caput (“head”), originally referring to the leader … Read more

3 Faulty Constructions of In-Line Lists

The interrelationship of words or phrases in a list of things set out in a sentence (known as an in-line list, as opposed to a vertical list) is often obscured by erroneous syntax. For each of the following examples, discussion and revision point out the errors of equivalency. 1. The average large project runs 45 … Read more

The “Guard” Family

Guard is the basis of a family of words pertaining to protection; these terms are listed and defined in the post below. Guard, from the French verb garder (formerly also spelled guarder and warder), meaning “defend” and related to the Old High German term warten, meaning “take care,” has several senses: It refers to someone … Read more

Sacred Words

The words featured in this post have a word in common: the Latin adjective sacer, meaning “holy.” The word’s direct descendant is sacred. Other terms include sacrament, which describes a religious observance or rite, and sacerdotal, which refers to things that pertain to a priest or the priesthood. A sacristy is a room where sacred … Read more

Grammar Quiz #5: Prepositions

All but one of the following sentences demonstrate incorrect use of a preposition; revise as necessary. 1. She is about to dive in to the pool. 2. I fell onto the platform. 3. When we disagreed, they turned in to our enemies. 4. John handed the paper into his teacher. 5. Do you have to … Read more

Punctuation with Parenthetical Phrasing

Parenthetical phrasing is often punctuated incorrectly, as shown in the following examples, each of which is followed by a discussion and a revision. 1. That’s why they choose to live in San Francisco proper instead of say a suburb like Daly City. In this sentence, say is being used as a synonym for the parenthetical … Read more