Thursday, August 2, 2012

Words Commonly Misused

One of the most important requisites for writing is a strong knowledge and grasp of the language one is writing in, not least of which is a good understanding of words and their meanings. Every one of us, I am sure, may improve in this area. The following is a list of words frequently misused with their correct meanings. aggravate To make worse or intensify. It should not be used to mean exasperate or irritate. anticipate To expect. Also, to act before and thus prevent another action. One should not say, “The event was greatly anticipated;” but rather, “The event was eagerly anticipated.” deliberately “To perform with deliberation’’ or “To do in a slow, steady way.” It doesn’t always mean to do “on purpose.” effete Traditionally this word means “worn out, sterile.” It’s meaning has changed somewhat and now is often interpreted as “decadent, luxurious.” The old meaning is considered the correct one, but this word is potentially confusing. etc. Abbreviation of the Latin, et cetera, meaning “and other things.” It should be used in reference to things only, not people. nauseous “To be nauseating.” Do not confuse with "nauseated." Unless one considers himself to have such an effect on others, he should not say that he feels nauseous. original As an adjective this word means “first in a series; primitive; or having the ability to originate.” It is often used incorrectly to describe a thing as being odd or new. penultimate The next to last in a sequence, although people confuse it with the last of all. stupid “Characterised by stupor or langour.” Not necessarily an insulting adjective. terrible/awesome Terrible: inspiring terror. Awesome: inspiring awe. Both words have lost most of their original import. unique Along with adjectives such as entire, impossible, similar, and potential, this word is not comparable, meaning that you cannot use comparison words (more, less, most, greatly, completely, particularly, somewhat, etc.) in conjunction with it. A thing cannot be more unique than another or less unique than something else. Either it is unique or it is not. Note: An exception to this rule is the use of converting a not comparable adjective into a comparable in order to convey emphasis. For example, “You will be even deader when I’m finished with you.”