Usage Thursday: Top Nine Misused Words

One of my oldest, dearest friends uses the word irregardless. She is smart and highly educated, yet insists on using this non-word. Should I correct her? Cracked.com says yes and lists eight other words that don’t mean what we think they do with advice on whether it’s worth insisting people use them the right way. Although the site’s presentation is crude, the explanations of how we’re using peruse, ironic, pristine, nonplussed, bemused, enormity, plethora, and deceptively incorrectly and what they really mean are clear and entertaining. Do you have any to add?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Usage Thursday: Top Nine Misused Words

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  2. dub ewell

    So it shows what a nerd I am, but I’m kinda pissed about this list because pretty much every single dictionary disagrees with them on “peruse.” “Enormity,” too, is well on the way to taking its “mistaken” meaning as its other meaning.

    I already had a mild Facebook freakout about this.
    (I may or may not have said, “WAKE UP SHEEPLE! CRACKED.com IS NOT AN AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE FOR USAGE AND TH GRAMMARZ!”)

    On the other hand, “irregardless” is kind of inexcusable unless done, um, ironically.

    • motsjustes

      Hey, Thanks for weighing in. One thing I’ve learned is that the dictionary tells us how words *are* used rather than how they should be used. That’s why “ain’t” can be found in the dictionary now. But you’re right that accepted usage on some of these words has changed/is changing. -ae

    • Mac

      I know this is from a long time ago, but cracked was write about “peruse.” Some dictionaries might disagree, but the Oxford dictionary (the Bible of the English language in my opinion) is in complete agreement with the cracked article.

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  4. looknfeel

    Add to this list: comprise. Most people confuse it with “compose,” saying “comprised of,” when what they really mean to say is “composed of.” Comprise means “to embrace” or contain. You can say a flock comprises ewes and rams, or is composed of ewes and rams. But you would never say a thing is “contained of” its parts. Because so many people disregard its original meaning, dictionaries are starting to list the usage “comprised of,” commenting, in their wishy-washy way, that both active and passive uses have come to mean the same thing. I’ve seen this change come about in my lifetime. The dictionaries fall short of mentioning that the newer usage is a product of ignorance and muddy thinking.

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