Disavowed and Disabused

One day, not long ago, I read a story in the Guardian about a man who mistook an alligator for a dog. The following sentence made me grab my pen: But the man was quickly disavowed of his belief the creature was a dog when it bit him on the leg. What? Surely the writer … Read more

Biased and Prejudiced Against

In a recent post about confusion between the words precedent and precedence, a reader commented on a similar confusion between noun-adjective distinctions like bias/biased and prejudice/prejudiced. Thereby hangs this post. bias (noun): Tendency to favor or dislike a person or thing, especially as a result of a preconceived opinion; partiality, prejudice. biased (adjective): Influenced by … Read more

Legal Terms for Reading the News

As investigations, hearings, and trials flood the news media, a short glossary of legal terms may be useful to readers. Anyone who has watched enough Law & Order episodes probably already knows quite a few legal terms, such as warrant, subpeona, voir dire, and mens rea. Here are some terms and examples from recent news … Read more

No More Grammatical Dummies

Common terms used in teaching the expletive use of it and there are “dummy it, ” “dummy there,” and “dummy subject.” expletive: Of a word or phrase: serving merely to fill out a sentence or a metrical line without adding anything to the sense. Dummy A derivative of dumb (“unable to speak), dummy boasts twenty-one … Read more