Opinion: Propagation of mispronunciation and malaproprism


Commentary by Ward Degler

Irregardless isn’t a word. The newer Webster dictionaries accept it – reluctantly – since folks continue to use it. But, no, it still isn’t a word.

Neither is excetera. Even with all those unused xs lying around, the word is still etcetera.

There are several words and phrases that English speakers routinely misuse. We also use insure when we mean ensure. The Prudential insures. The rest of us make sure something happens by ensuring it.

Snakes aren’t poisonous, they’re venomous. A bottle of strychnine is poisonous, but only if you drink it.

If I like what you did, I may compliment you. If I want to add to the compliment by giving you a gift, I’ve complemented the compliment. And that would probably affect your mood by having a good effect on it.

For all intents and purposes, it’s a whole other thing, not for all intensive purposes, a whole nother thing. And we should have done that rather than should of done it.

While a 2-year-old may enjoy going butt naked, the correct phrase is buck naked. I found no reference to where the phrase originated, but I did read through a testy debate between two grammar masters where one declared buck naked derived from butt naked, while the other argued the opposite was true. Both have way too much time on their hands.

By the way, there is no such thing as a safety deposit box. It’s simply a safe deposit box. And if you put something into it, you bring it. If you remove something, you take it. It’s the same way with a party: You bring a present and take home leftovers.

I have mistakenly used fewer when I meant less. Fewer you can count. Less is, well, less, an undefined amount. I am always regretful of that mistake – meaning I regret making it. The fact that I do make it is regrettable, unfortunate.

It’s important to know that you defuse a bomb, whereas, when you diffuse something, you scatter it across a wide area. Of course, if you make a mistake defusing a bomb, you are likely to diffuse yourself across a very wide area.

When you disburse something, you pay out, as cash. When you disperse a thing, you scatter it across a wide area. See bomb defusing above. When we disassemble, we take something apart. When we dissemble, we tell a lie.

To be clear, a futile effort is all for naught, not all for not. And, competitive as things might be out there, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, not a doggy dog world.

And that, for all intensive purposes, is the grammar lesson for today.