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Pedants' corner

incorrect use of words

(97 Posts)
BradfordLass72 Thu 03-Jan-19 07:28:12

Pedants Corner is just the right place for me because I get so cross when in almost every book I read, some by leading authors, I hear words used incorrectly.

Prodigal does NOT mean 'returning' but profligate, spendthrift, throwing your money about like a man with no arms. (and how does that work btw?) smile

Brackish water is a mixture of salt and fresh, as in an estuary for instance, but is so often used as if it means dirty.

And so many more.
I know language changes and there are many words we use now which have reversed their meaning, 'sophisticated' for instance, but ti still make me wild.
Anyone else got a pet peeve word?

ninathenana Thu 03-Jan-19 07:39:52

Not a word used in the wrong context but I bristle when I see people, especially on FB confusing aloud/allowed

Teetime Thu 03-Jan-19 09:32:37

Its incredible/incredulous for me.

Luckygirl Thu 03-Jan-19 09:44:08

On Mumsnet the other day a whole stream of posters talked about "balling" at someone. It was not just one person who got it wrong.

As for alternate/alternative - this error turns up on many websites from well-known companies.

phoenix Thu 03-Jan-19 10:16:36

"Of" when it should be "Have" is mine!

Niobe Thu 03-Jan-19 10:37:28

Their, there and they're are often used incorrectly and people talking about a 'chest of draws' instead of a chest of drawers make me gnash my teeth!
Another one I have noticed recently is 'what a palava' when I always thought it should be 'what a palaver'.

phoenix Thu 03-Jan-19 10:43:15

Just heard on Radio 4, "they were subjected to a considerable amount of capital punishment".

I'm supposing the speaker meant corporal punishment?

MissAdventure Thu 03-Jan-19 11:02:53

Instead of being 'wary' of something, I've heard and seen written 'weary' and 'leery'..

seacliff Thu 03-Jan-19 11:07:33

Affect and Effect, so many get this wrong. I have pulled my manager up on this before.

Not the same thing, but this new habit of starting a sentence with So.

NanaMacGeek Thu 03-Jan-19 11:49:30

I didn't know that sophisticated originally meant simplifying or denaturing - thank you for that. It only goes to show that, given plenty of time, we accept changes in the meaning of words.

Medalling gets me annoyed every time I hear it. I imagine that it won't be long before meddling and medalling start getting muddled!

sodapop Thu 03-Jan-19 12:09:40

Also peddling & pedalling NanaMacGeek. Reign / rein I see often in books and papers.
Why do some chefs say parsta when its pasta or am I mistaken.

JackyB Thu 03-Jan-19 12:12:41

I am always confused by 'spendthrift' as used in the OP. I understand it to be someone who is thrifty. But often it seems to mean the opposite as used these days. So is a spendthrift someone who is careful with money or a squanderer?

Bathsheba Thu 03-Jan-19 12:25:22

The word 'thrift' originally meant savings, wealth, fortune (derived from the verb 'to thrive'). So a spendthrift would be someone who was spending all their fortune.
Thrift these days has come to mean being careful with money, hence the confusion.

grandtanteJE65 Thu 03-Jan-19 14:03:28

disinterested used to mean uninterested! And the extra r that a lot of people add to "draw" and "drawing" pronounced as "drarw" and " drarwing "maddens me.

grandtanteJE65 Thu 03-Jan-19 14:04:41

Or capital in the old-fashioned sense of wonderful, perhaps Pheonix?

grannyticktock Thu 03-Jan-19 15:29:21

"Substitute".is now being used to mean "replace" :
You can substitute margarine for some of the butter (correct).
You can replace some of the butter with margarine (correct).
You can substitute some of the butter with margarine (Wrong! And totally confusing).

I blame football: the commentators often say, "He's being substituted" when they mean "He's being replaced by a substitute". The player who's substituted should be called the substitute, (the replacement) not the one who's been taken off.

The reason this matters is because it's often used now in recipes etc and we can't actually tell which way round the substitution is supposed to be happening. Someone said it on the radio today, with reference to sugar consumption: "Parents can substitute the sugar... " No, what they meant was they can replace the sugar, or substitute dried fruit etc. What they said meant the opposite.

FarNorth Thu 03-Jan-19 15:44:31

Mortified - I always understood it to mean embarrassed and horrified together as in "Everyone laughed because my petticoat was showing. I was mortified."
Now I see it used when the meaning is plain horrified.

FarNorth Thu 03-Jan-19 15:47:59

grannyticktock, I've been confused about that. I had wondered if I'd got it wrong.

Nonnie Thu 03-Jan-19 15:49:46

This train terminates at.... always makes me think it will explode! Surely it is the journey which terminates?

alot grrrr

Literally when it isn't

I'll stop before I create a very long list. Oh maybe not, just to add that I also get unreasonably peeved about 'of' instead of 'have' Phoenix.

Grammaretto Thu 03-Jan-19 16:00:16

I can forgive most errors as typos or just plain ignorant but I detest mistakes on official websites.
For example: principal for principle
Your for you're
and so on.

Beginning a sentence So is also grating. In terms of is overused.
Joolery is not how to pronounce jewellery. Nucular when they mean nuclear.
Differentiate when they mean distinguish. Sometimes a long word is preferred to make the meaning seem important.
I can accept that the language changes and have read Bill Bryson's book Mother Tongue which explains clearly how language develops.

Willynilly Thu 03-Jan-19 18:30:17

How about incorrect use of numbers? Twenty nineteen or two thousand and nineteen?

Scribbles Thu 03-Jan-19 22:54:50

It was Nineteen-nineteen, so why not Twenty-nineteen?

Use of infer instead of imply (or vice versa) makes me grind my teeth, and as for "one pence"..... Aaaaaagh!!

While we're at it, isn't it time for a massive campaign to end the use of "pee" when referring to currency? It may, briefly, have been useful to differentiate 6p from 6d during the short period when some of the old coins were used in conjunction with the new currency. But nearly fifty years on? It's six pence, for goodness sake. Get a grip, people, please!!

Holi Fri 04-Jan-19 07:58:35

We are in the UK - we do not have a MOM!!

Oldwoman70 Fri 04-Jan-19 08:25:10

I feel petty writing this - but when someone writes "ect" instead of "etc" A small mistake but always annoys me

Bathsheba Fri 04-Jan-19 09:09:38

"Can you confirm your address please?" No!!! I can tell you my address and you can confirm whether it matches your records. Or, you can read out the address you have for me and I can confirm whether it's correct.
What you mean is, "please tell me your address".

Oh, and on the subject of the word "can": when my children were little they would ask, e.g. "can I go out in the garden?" to which I'd reply "I don't know. Can you? Have you tried it before?" So they'd start again - "May I go out in the garden?". It was all good-natured, and said in fun, but it definitely drummed into them the difference between 'may I' and 'can I' wink