Koalas are not bears.
They are marsupials. They carry their young in their pouches, just like kangaroos, wombats, and the Tasmanian devil. (Betcha didn’t know that last one either, did you?)
So the next time you refer to koalas, just call them koalas and not koala bears.
Look carefully at the words ingenious and ingenuous. Do you know the difference? Both are adjectives, but they have completely different meanings and are also pronounced differently.
ingenious – having genius; brilliant; original and imaginative
ingenuous – lacking sophistication; straightforward; artless; naive; candid
There are some words that cannot be qualified or compared because they are absolutes. The two most commonly abused absolutes are perfect and unique.
perfect (adjective and noun with accent on the first syllable; and verb with accent on the second) means conforming absolutely; complete beyond improvement; entirely without flaws. But you’ll hear people say, for example, “I had the most perfect birthday.” Just use perfect without most in front of it.
unique (adjective) means existing as the only one, having no equal, incomparable. I have seen it improperly paired with very, as in “a very unique dress.” Nope, don’t use very.
I saw this fabulous photo online yesterday:
Window washers at a children’s hospital. Love it.
What I don’t love is the text under the photo:
It should read “window-washers… rappel down the side…”
Rappel means “the act or method of moving down a steep incline or past an overhang by means of a double rope secured above and placed around the body.”
Repel, on the other hand, means “to thrust back or away (an assailant); to resist effectively (an attack); and to keep off or out, to fail to mix with.”
The photo and text are from the blog of a major newspaper’s photography department. I am disappointed that no one caught that error.
I got an email from my cell phone provider last week that started off: “To better service you…”
That should be serve you, not service you. Serve is the verb; service is a noun, adjective, and a verb with an object. You can service a car or, if you are being vulgar, one person can service another person, as in prostitution..
I was reading a news story about the tragic sinking of the HMS Bounty and death of her captain and a crew member when I came across this line:
… An ancestor of the 1789 mutiny of the original Bounty, Fletcher Christian, [Claudine Christian] had…
What the line above should have said was … A descendant of the 1789 mutiny…
An ancestor is relative who lived before you. It is a person from whom one is descended.
A descendant is someone descended from an ancestor; offspring.
I’ve been asked why something is jury rigged and not “jerry rigged.”
Jury rig was originally a nautical term that meant a replacement mast improvised in case of damage or loss of the original mast. That led to its current meaning of makeshift repairs or temporary contrivances, made with only the tools and materials that happen to be on hand.
“Jerry rig” does not have a meaning and is merely a mix up of jerry and jury.
Updated to add: Now this is interesting, while Wikipedia dismisses “jerry,” Merriam Webster says it’s okay. I’ll do more research and let you know what I find out.
I love Pinterest. Seriously. It’s one of my favorite websites to waste time on.
Unfortunately, Pinterest is rife with spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. If I re-pin something, I make corrections, but the mistakes, they are plenty, and there is only so much that I can do.
One that I just saw was: …I found the mother load [sic] of ideas…
The correct term is mother lode.
Lode is a mining term that means a veinlike deposit or any body of ore set off from the rock around it. Mother lode means a major or profitable source or supply.
Oh look, it’s another trio of words that are frequently mixed up: pair, pare, and pear. Let’s sort this out: