Slurry and Flurry

Almost right is not good enough. I read this in the Daily Mail during hurricane season: . . . the National Weather Service issued a slurry of alarming tweets. Presumably, the writer meant that the Weather Service issued so many tweets, one after another, they were like objects flying through the air. If that were … Read more

The Half-life of Verbs

The term half-life existed before the term was applied to the breakdown of a radioactive substance. One earlier meaning was “an unsatisfactory way of life.” Another was “the size of painting half life-size.” The radioactive application dates from 1907. Now, the term is also applied to the time required for half the amount of any … Read more

Color Symbolism in Writing

Advertisers pay a great deal of attention to the colors that go into their marketing materials. There’s even a branch of psychology that studies the way color can affect human behavior. Marketers use color to sell products—red to stimulate the appetite, pink to appeal to women, green for gardening and farming supplies, and so on. … Read more

Dropping the “of” After “couple”

This recent cry of despair from a reader has not fallen on deaf ears: You’re the only people I know to complain to, so I’m complaining again: ‘Couple’ in spoken form, and recently in written form, with ‘a’ and ‘of’ elided, has become the equivalent of ‘two’. The reader goes on to offer an “updated” … Read more