Category Archives: Word Nerd

Word Nerd: Insure Yourself

Word Nerd: Insure Yourself

Today’s Word Nerd is an exercise in specificity. All three of these words are closely related, with the same root. At some point they separated into distinct but similar meanings. We’ll look at the difference between insure, ensure and assure. Read More

Advertisements

Word Nerd: Be Wary

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. Read More

Word Nerd: Low and Behold

Word Nerd: Low and Behold

One of the main sources of confusion in common phrases is the prevalence of archaic and obsolete words, some of which only linger on because of their presence in these phrases. That’s the case with one of today’s words, a word that, apart from a few cliche terms, you’ll most likely never encounter outside of a church. It’s therefore completely reasonable that people would substitute the more modern word. Lo and low. Read More

Word Nerd: Censured

Word Nerd: Censured

Today’s Word Nerd was inspired by recent news events, the most prominent being the response to celebrity chef Paula Deen’s PR problem. The social media world went crazy over this story, and more than a few have voiced concerns about censorship. There’s another word that sounds very similar, and its meaning is related, but expresses a different concept. There are also two other completely unrelated words to dispense with first. Read More

Word Nerd: Whose Who?

Word Nerd: Whose Who?

Today’s Word Nerd revolves around a common confusion between the plural and possessive form, and it’s one that’s possibly even more common than the its-it’s confusion. What makes this one more complicated is that it’s not just a question of whether or not to insert an apostrophe; there’s a whole different spelling for the possessive. Whose, who’s. Read More

Word Nerd: Choosing My Palate

Word Nerd: Choosing My Palate

Today we’re going to take on a somewhat tricky one; I actually saw this in print in a restaurant menu, which is what inspired the post; the menu talked about a particular item that it promised would “please your palette.” And so here we are. These words routinely get mixed up more often than not. And we’ll throw in a fourth word that’s similar in sound but has nothing to do with any of the others except that occasionally somebody will substitute one of them for it. Pallet, palette, palate, pallid. Read More

Word Nerd: I Need My Space!

Word Nerd: I Need My Space!

It’s nothing. No, really, it’s nothing at all. But it’s amazing how a little nothing can make so much difference. I’m talking about space. Not the Final Frontier where nobody can hear you scream; I’m talking about a word space. The presence or absence of a single space can completely alter the meaning of a sentence, possibly even reversing it. Read More