Friday, September 11, 2015

The 58 most commonly misused words and phrases

Harvard linguist points out the 58 most commonly misused words and phrases 


Don Coffin said...

I'm sure everyone will agree with all of those distinctions. But the distinctiveness of Pinker's opinions is quite obvious.

Don Coffin said...

Or treat this as a response to Pinker (not that I think it was intended that way):

Mike Doran said...

Mr. Pinker missed one.
It was so obvious that I nearly lost my temper.

These days, I always hear about people who blow up at others:
"That guy's sure got a temper on him!"
But temper - originally, anyway - meant the ability to control one's anger.
Losing one's temper - that meant you got angry, and started yelling and throwing things, and the like.

I couldn't tell you exactly when the changeover went into effect, but apparently it's now permanent.
I even find myself making this mistake (and that's what it is), and it bothers me when I catch myself at it.
Fortunately, I have a pretty even temper.
Most of the time, anyway ...

Don Coffin said...

The phrase "temper tantrum" has been around for a long time...The concise Oxford Dictionary dates it to at least 1930. George Harmon Coxe used "temper" ("you got a temper like Nadine had--well, I ain't the easiest guy in the world to get along with either...") in The Frightened Fiancee in 1950 to mean, apparently, someone who lost it easily. (Google is wonderful...I googled "that guy's sure got a temper on him.")

And so "temper", by itself and in some of its cognate words (temperate, for example), may now have both meanings.

Rick Robinson said...

I certainly admit to using and misusing some of these, though what I intend to say is clear in my mind. Still, I'm better than 90% on these.