The Many Meanings of “Groom” and “Grooming”

A formerly useful and innocuous set of words–groom, groomed, and grooming—has become a trope used primarily to stir anxiety and dread in parents. People who use words professionally may want to give some thought to taming some of the hysteria that has come to reside around these words. The noun groom Until recently, the noun … Read more

“Meaningless Buzzwords”?

I read that a political commentator, whom I will not name, asserts that five particular terms are “meaningless buzzwords.” Labeling these particular words “buzzwords” sent me to my language sources to discover whether my understanding of the word is faulty. Here are definitions from my two main dictionaries. buzzword: noun, Originally and chiefly U.S. a … Read more

Mustn’t Have Done and Couldn’t Have Done

A reader has asked for a post on the difference between “mustn’t have + past participle” and “couldn’t have + past participle.” He gives these examples: a) Ahmed failed the exam. He mustn’t have studied hard. b) Ahmed failed the exam. He couldn’t have studied hard. Before writing to me, the reader queried native English … Read more