Word Nerd: It’s Inflammable!


Every so often, somebody will email me about words and meanings. Sometimes it’s a suggestion for words that they’ve seen misused (most recently, invasive when evasive was meant), sometimes it’s a question. Recently, my friend Sara Mallory sent a Facebook message asking about today’s words. What’s the difference between them? Continue reading

Word Nerd: Guilty Conscious


This week’s Word Nerd is one of those that actually surprised me; I thought that because the two are relatively harder to spell than most of our frequently-confused words, fewer people would mess them up. Of course, the fact that they evolved from different conjugations of the same Latin word may have something to do with the confusion. Continue reading

Word Nerd: Up a Creak


Today’s Word Nerd is not a terribly common one, though it pops up from time to time. Maybe it’s due to autocorrect, or maybe it’s apathy, but it’s one I’ve seen a few times online, usually in the form of people talking about “hearing the door creek” or “fishing in the creak.” Continue reading

Word Nerd: I’m a Looser.


We’re back! And with three different illustrations this week. Here’s another one of those words that a lot of people get wrong simply because spellcheck doesn’t catch it, and it’s another of those in which the mistake typically only goes one way. People often write loose when they mean lose, but I’ve never seen anyone write lose when they meant loose. Continue reading

Word Nerd: The Bear Facts


Here’s yet another in the endless parade of homophones (or heterographs, if you prefer) that spellcheck happily ignores. This time we’ll cover the distance between carrying a heavy load and taking off your clothes, and we’ll throw in a big scary animal while we’re at it. We’ll look at bear and bare. Continue reading

Word Nerd: Flushing Out


Today’s Word Nerd is one of those cases where two very similar phrases exist, and because of being misheard, the wrong one gets used. Yes, it’s a mondegreen. Like “for all intensive purposes” or “all the sudden” (and please don’t ever say either of those), “flush out” crops up where it makes no sense, due to people having misheard “flesh out.” Continue reading

Word Nerd Index


This week marks the one year anniversary of the Word Nerd feature, and it finally occurred to me (after a few people emailed suggesting words I’d already done) that there really ought to be an index, so that those who are interested can find previous installments. So here it is. New installments will be added to the list as they are posted. Continue reading

Word Nerd: That’s Not Cannon!


Today we come to the one word that was the cause of the Word Nerd feature coming into existence in the first place. A friend on Facebook had posted a comment about a comic book story plot-point and said “that’s not cannon.” I responded “people who talk about the Marvel cannon should be fired out of one.” Continue reading

Word Nerd: Be Wary


Today’s Word Nerd was a gift from Fox News, via Facebook. One of my friends posted an article about a Fox story on homeless panhandlers, and it included a screenshot. There for all the world to see was a laughably bungled word choice: “Donors should be weary of who they give money.” The word they are looking for is wary. This is one of those rare cases where two similar words have nearly opposite meanings. Continue reading