Misused words

This list of misused words, sent by Chuckles, is largely about American misusage [is that a proper word?] and many of them I’ve not seen denizens of these isles misuse.  One of the spellings I disagree with but in America it might be acceptable.

Here are a few I’d like to point out and then maybe some of my own:

#  Enervate: To cause someone to feel drained; commonly misused to mean “to energize.”

#  Fortuitous: To happen by chance; commonly confused with “fortunate.”

#  Irregardless: Not a word, but commonly confused with “regardless.”

#  Practicable: To be able to put together successfully; commonly confused with “practical.”

And there are some which are plain bollox the way he states them:

#  New Age: Spiritualistic and holistic; commonly misused to mean modern or futuristic.

The term very much means futuristic, if futuristic means ‘pertaining to the future’, politically and this is an issue of both changing usage and political positions. English words have always changed in their usage, the purists might not like it but that’s what has happened. ‘New Age’, meaning ‘let’s throw out the old [politically] and look only to the modern, as in the ‘modern’ woman’, is very much correct, changing usage today.

#  Politically correct: Inoffensive or appropriate; commonly misused to mean fashionable.

Harvard professor – that explains it all.

#  Verbal: In linguistic form; commonly confused with “spoken.”

In some parts of this land, at the Arfur Daley level, to ‘verbal’ someone is appropriate usage. As for ‘spoken’, it’s very much correct usage – ‘written and verbal’. While we’re at it, ‘aural’ and ‘oral’ are two interesting ones.

One which is an interesting discussion point is:

#  Refute: To prove something false; commonly misused to mean “to allege to be false.”

That’s a very good point he makes – ‘I refute what you say,’ actually means ‘I allege that what you say is bollox.’ For you to use the word ‘refute’, I’d like to see your credentials please.

One I often hear is ‘redundant’, as in ‘that’s redundant’, as in ‘irrelevant’ or ‘logically incorrect’.

Another is the old lay/laid/lain issue and that’s a post in itself.

One which annoys me is people writing ’60s’, meaning ’60s’. There’s so much of this going on, it’s almost as offensive as seeing news sites putting up pictures of gay men kissing.

Finally, as this article was ‘hat-tipped’ to the Independent newspaper, one wonders about the level of English attainment of the journos who wrote it unquestioningly … or is that unquestionably?

[And that’s mainly a spelling issue, rather than an issue of usage.]


Chuckles also sent this, on topic:

Yes, she can be fairly gross, quite decorative too. But last time I paid attention, she was an actress. And hasn’t it occurred to them that this destroys some of their other cherished narratives? (And note that it is a completely invented and redefined ‘metric’ related to movie ticket sales, not to remuneration.)


22 comments for “Misused words

  1. dearieme
    December 29, 2016 at 09:51

    It’s interesting that she’s “grossing”. How many meanings could that have?

    • Chuckles
      December 29, 2016 at 10:06


      • December 29, 2016 at 10:28

        That’s plain gross.

  2. Distant Relative
    December 29, 2016 at 10:41

    There’s also the irritating misuse of ‘then’ and ‘than’ as in ‘rather then’ which happens a lot on American and Canadian blogs.

    It won’t matter as the upcoming generation will lose the power of speech just as they are losing the power to write anything other than txt spk. As my generation ages and memory starts to fade we’ll make up our own new words and confuddle.


  3. Lord T
    December 29, 2016 at 11:51

    You forgot


    All those don’t mean what they meant 30 years ago.

  4. Mark in Mayenne
    December 29, 2016 at 12:41

    Here upon the grass I lie,
    And as I lie gaze at the sky.
    Yesterday here too I lay,
    And could have lain thus all the day.

    • dearieme
      December 29, 2016 at 12:50

      Good start. Can you write it as a hen, so that you can work in laying an egg?

      • Mark in Mayenne
        December 29, 2016 at 14:37

        There is also a verb “to lay” that has nothing to do with “to lie”.

  5. December 29, 2016 at 12:53

    Well, that’s laid that to rest.

  6. decnine
    December 29, 2016 at 13:09

    I guess it’s a topic for a separate post, but I detest mispronounced words. For example the BBC’s recently adopted habit of pronouncing lever to rhyme with leather instead of with fever.

    • Mark in Mayenne
      December 29, 2016 at 14:38

      Short – lived really winds me up. Should rhyme with arrived.

    • December 29, 2016 at 14:56

      They pronounce “controversy” like the Americans do, too. They say “contra-VER-sy” instead of “con-TRO-versy”.

    • Distant Relative
      December 30, 2016 at 09:15

      Similarly, “bade” rhyming with “made” when it should rhyme with “bad”! Like wot my English teachers said, innit?


  7. December 29, 2016 at 14:55

    Three from me:

    1. “Begging the question” used instead of raising the question.
    2. A “leading question” to mean an important question.
    3. “Disinterested” to mean uninterested.

  8. December 29, 2016 at 14:56

    The winner of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (handicap) did a fine job coming in second for Line Honours. In an interview he described himself reflecting on the ‘enormity’ of the task. I thought he did well.

    He’s a New Zealander.

  9. Henry Kaye
    December 29, 2016 at 16:00

    I like words and for that reason I watch Countdown and I’ve reached the conclusion from that programme that the dictionary now includes any collection of vowels and consonants which can produce a sound. Just watch the programme – Susie Dent will come up with a score of them every day!

  10. opsimath
    December 29, 2016 at 17:24

    Among my pet hates:

    ‘utilise’ instead of ‘use’

    ‘decimate’ instead of ‘destroy’

    ‘epicentre’ instead of ‘centre’

    ‘could/would/should of’ instead of ‘could/would/should have’

    ‘remainer’ (in the referendum question’ instead of ‘democracy denier’

    Happy New Year to all who visit this excellent blog, and especially to its owner.

  11. December 29, 2016 at 18:21

    Thank you for all of those.

  12. December 30, 2016 at 05:12

    I always figured “irregardless” was a confusion between “regardless” and “irrespective.”

Comments are closed.