wordzly

The world of words, reading and writing

Archive for the category “Word Play”

A Silly Little Ditty

Sometimes when I haven’t got a single thing to do

I have a little boredom buster that I’ll share with you

Although it isn’t often I have nothing on my plate

It’s equally effective as a way to procrastinate

It really is quite simple and it shouldn’t take you long

You simply make a little poem and set it to a song

Just write whatever’s in your head, it doesn’t matter what

Then set it to the tune of whatever music you consider hot

Maybe you could rap it out or set it to a soulful tune

Or maybe if you’d rather not, you could just dress like a prune

I’m like Shakespeare. I do this fairly often, except not the prune thing.

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Mismatched Meanings

We need to stop doubling up on words. The English language has all these words with multiple meanings that actually contradict one another. These words are called contronyms (or auto-antonyms) – words that due to their multiple meanings, are actually antonyms of themselves. Such as:

Scan – originally it meant to carefully peruse something thoroughly and completely, but it also now means to quickly skim over something.

This is especially frustrating because, unlike other homonyms, which meaning is meant is not always made clear in the context of the sentence.

‘Is she a careful editor?’

‘See for yourself. She scans through all the material.’

Is this promoting her editorial skills or denouncing them? Is she carefully reading through everything or just glancing over it?

Consult – to ask or seek advice

‘I sought consult’ vs. ‘I gave consult’

Custom – may mean the usual or unusual

‘that is the custom’

‘Her jeans are custom’

Dust – Either remove dust or sprinkle something

Fast – quick or unmoving

‘He ran fast’ vs. ‘he was stuck fast’

Handicap – can mean an advantage or a disadvantage

Left – as in ‘who’s left?’ Are you asking who is still remaining or who has departed? Although to be fair, this is only a problem due to the contraction. When you expand it to either ‘who has’ or ‘who is’ the meaning becomes clear.

Oversight – to watch over or supervise vs. a failure to notice something

Temper – tempering metal means to solidify, yet tempering chocolate means to melt

Seriously, the English language can just be bizarre at times.

All Your Memes are Belong to Us

I was going to talk about memes but then I took an arrow to the knee. Ahahahaaahaahaaaa!

But seriously, what is with memes? I just don’t get them. What is their merit? Why are people laughing at them?

I suppose I better stop at this point and maybe define what a meme is for anyone who doesn’t know. Essentially, they are ideas that are spread across the internet. They don’t necessarily have to be ‘jokes’ but these particular memes are what I am focusing on.

Memes can only exist on the internet. Because once they are transplanted into the real world you realise what a ludicrous premise they are. Memes aren’t even jokes, really. Jokes stand on their own and are funny in their own right. Memes need context and an understanding of the origin of the meme. Take ‘Nope, Chuck Testa’ for example. If someone says, ‘Nope, Chuck Testa’ that’s not funny if you don’t know who Chuck Testa is and why he’s saying ‘Nope, Chuck Testa’. Saying something that someone else said isn’t funny. That’s not how humour works. Saying something funny that someone else said might be funny. But not when a person is hearing it for the 1000th time. And that’s what a meme is. It’s just a mass of people repeating the same thing verbatim

Memes are the bane of creativity. Instead of original thought they breed stock responses. Imagine if a comedian got up on stage and proceeded to just repeat the jokes of the previous comedian. Imagine if every comedian after that continued to just repeat the same jokes. That’s essentially what memes are. Perhaps a meme starts off as funny but just like anything else repetition quickly kills its value. They quickly lose all humour, as it becomes about being recognisable rather than funny. It’s basically an internet-wide ‘in’ joke. When you have an ‘in’ joke with friends, those not in on the joke don’t find it funny because they have no idea what you’re talking about. They have no point of reference. To me, memes seem to be ‘in’ jokes but mostly without the jokes. The point seems to be to just reference the meme so everyone can know that you ‘get it’. That you’re in on it. You understand the internet.

Just to clarify, I find some memes humourous. But only the memes that allow variation. Writing ‘First’, ‘Nope. Chuck Testa’ or ‘C-c-c combo breaker’ isn’t funny because they’re the same phrase pigeon-holed into wherever they may vaguely be able to fit. Adapting a meme’s concept to create an original joke can be funny. So, something like the advice dog memes are fine because you take the original idea of the meme and create something new around it. Yay, somewhat originality!!

Oh memes, y u no try harder!

Words that Sound and Look Ugly

Words are beautiful. They allow us to communicate, to write, to speak, to sing, to read. Oh, what beauty pervades a word! Sure, words are a beautiful concept but there exists some words that are just plain ugly. I’m not talking about words with ugly connotations like pus or scum. I’m talking about words that are totally innocent in meaning but just look or sound totally disgusting. They don’t sit right with me: they have awkward phonetics or an odd conglomeration of letters. There’s just something about them that is cringe-inducing.

Freer

This just looks so wrong. There’s nothing particularly offensive when saying it, but the problem lies in the rift between how it is sounded and how it is spelt. I would much rather it be spelt ‘freeyer’. Also, the ‘fr’ sound is such as awkward one that makes words like Frack and Fructose ugly. These words are perhaps worse because they are paired with the harsh ‘k’ sound.

Gist

Again, this looks so wrongly spelt. Actually, spelt sounds really stupid now.

Purge

Cooperate

I hate that this word isn’t hyphenated. The rule of hyphens is usually that when a single-syllable prefix ends with the same vowel as the word starts with, you hyphenate it. So you have ‘de-emphasise’ or re-enter’. For some foolish reason this doesn’t apply to doubled up o’s. It looks like someone’s had a really bad go at spelling recuperate and it annoys me fiercely. Similarly, I hate Unselfconsciously. This word needs some serious hyphenation!

Undergird

Oestrus

Too many hissing s’s, not to mention that ‘o’. What does it think it’s doing there?

Extirpation

This word means to destroy or remove, so why not just use ‘elimination’? There’s just something utterly ridiculous about this word. I’m probably cheating by including it because I can’t help thinking of it as some bastard conglomeration of ‘turnip’, ‘derp’ and ‘constipation’.

Nugget

Udder

I have no problem with ‘utter’ so I’m not entirely sure why I don’t like this word. It’s udder madness!

Putative

I hate that ‘pew’ sound. It’s nothing anti-religious but pew is ew.

Ointment

It’s the ‘oi’ at the start. You can’t sound distinguished when you start by saying ‘oi’.

Cudgel

Seriously, the ‘k’ sound is so harsh and that ‘dg’ sound just makes it worse. I think that’s part of why ‘cunt’ is so offensive. It’s blunt. A blunt cunt. But for one of the most harshly-sounding words, I would go with conk. The bookending of that ‘k’ sound is guttural and the ‘nk’ makes this strange restrictive feel on the back of your throat.

Morsel

Drawer

The ugliness of this word probably comes from my difficulty in saying it. It’s basically just ‘draw’ but then it hangs around for too long. If I’m going to include words that are hell to say then I would have to add Texts. Maybe it’s just me but there’s no way of adding in that second ‘t’ without it sounding horrible, splitting up the word and adding a second syllable. I had to suffer through innumerable English classes trying to vomit out that word. That second ‘t’ has no place being there. Imagine if you put a ‘t’ in ‘checks’. Checkts. See, awful.

I suppose I should also mention Moist. It’s such an ugly word, in fact it’s recognised as the ugliest word in the English language. As much as I dislike the word I wouldn’t include it on this list because I think it mostly has to do with connotation. Sure, it has that ‘oi’ sound and the abrupt ‘t’ ending, but I think the problem comes from visualising what moist represents. I don’t have a problem with a moist cake but a moist tissue or a moist carpet? I think I’m going to be sick.

What about you? Are there any words you just can’t stand?

Y: The Secret Vowel

Everyone knows what a vowel is: A, E, I, O and U. But those are vowels, so what is a vowel actually? According to Professor Google, a vowel is a speech sound produced by a relatively open or free vocal passage. Everyone’s taught that all words need a vowel. But not every word does contain a vowel. Could there be a secret vowel? I present to you the letter Y: the craftiest of all the letters. Covert consonant and undercover vowel. In most circumstances it is a consonant but Y is actually considered a vowel in certain contexts where the Y sound is created with an open vocal passage. There are a surprisingly large number of words that allegedly contain no vowel, but thankfully do because of Y’s resourcefulness. How many can you think of?

My, Try, Sky, Fry, Why

Gym, Hymn

Myth

Crypt

Lynx

Lynch

Myrhh

Pygmy

Gypsy

And drumroll for the longest word ‘without’ any vowels (but we know better!):

Rhythms

 

Poor Mr. Y. He works so hard and never gets his dues. Y, I support you.

Words We’re Saying Wrong

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (And what Alice found there)

Previously I wrote about common phrases and sayings that a lot of people misuse. Well, I now bring to you words that have been bastardised so much most people no longer realise their proper meaning.

Fortuitous

Most people describe something fortuitous as being lucky or fortunate. In fact, most people would presume it is derived from ‘fortunate’. Fortuitous is actually derived from the Latin word ‘forte’ meaning ‘by chance’. Thus, fortuitous actually refers to something that has happened by chance or accident.

Nemesis

The misuse of nemesis particularly irks me because Agatha Christie has a book titled Nemesis in which the proper meaning of the word is applied. People nowadays use nemesis as synonymous with enemy. You would undoubtedly have heard people describe someone as their nemesis who they disliked or were in competition with. But the word actually derives from Nemesis, the Greek goddess of justice and retribution. Its formal meaning is a deserved punishment or defeat that is unavoidable. Basically, it stands for retributive justice. It wasn’t until the 20th century that it became associated with a person or event that brings about someone’s downfall. Still, this meaning has little to do with an enemy.

Disinterested

‘Disinterested’ is very often confused with ‘uninterested’. While there is only a matter of different prefixes there is a fairly considerable difference in meaning. Most people would think disinterested to refer to boredom or lack of interest in something. This is actually the meaning of uninterested. Disinterested means impartial or free from bias. So if someone is disinterested, they have no stake in the matter. Thus, they have no interests to protect.

Anxious

Much like the disinterested/uninterested distinction, people often confuse ‘anxious’ with ‘nervous’. However, ‘nervous’ is usually confined to negative states of worry whereas ‘anxious’ can be a positive or negative mood state. another subtle difference is that ‘anxious’ implies anticipation of something whereas ‘nervous’ does not. For example, if you were nervous about an overseas trip it might be because you are scared of flying or travelling long distances. If you were anxious, however, you might be anxious about flying but you might also be anxious to leave now because you are excited for your trip. This way, anxious can be similar to eager.

Scan

Scan is the opposite of skim and yet these days they seem to be used fairly interchangeably. To scan something means to look at it closely and thoroughly. Alternatively, to skim something means to look over it briefly. Looking at how else the words are used shows this difference. If something skims over the water, it does so lightly and rapidly. A computer scanner reads the entire page and records it exactly.

Literally

Most people actually seem to know the difference between literally and figuratively, and yet ‘literally’ is still used as a hyperbolic exaggeration. When somebody proclaims it to be “literally raining cats and dogs” they of course don’t mean it to be actually raining cats and dogs. What they mean is ‘figuratively’. Literally is not a synonym for ‘really’ but means ‘in actual sense’.

Although, this meaning is still divergent from the original meaning of ‘word for word’. ‘literally’ used to only apply to instances where something had been copied out word for word or letter for letter. It had no application for non-literary situations. So when we chastise people for not using ‘literally’ to mean ‘actually’ we are also failing to use the word in its original sense. Literally!

Irregardless

I also need a special mention for ‘irregardless’. This must be the most commonly misused word of all time because it is (literally!) not a word! People use ‘irregardless’ to mean ‘regardless’. So why use ‘irregardless’ then? The suffix ‘less’ at the end of ‘regard’ means without regard to, so adding the prefix ‘ir’ to regardless negates the suffix. It’s just one of those bizarre mistakes people make and that somehow catch on.

Music’s Biggest Grammar Crimes

Pop songs: the pinnacle of grammar. Perhaps not. We can forgive singers taking some liberties with grammar in order to achieve the proper rhyme, rhythm and meter but we shouldn’t have to put up with utter nonsense. For your musical pleasure, I have compiled my own mix-tape of grammar gaffes of current and classic songs.

Double Negatives

Everyone should know double negatives are wrong because they just sound so wrong. Apparently these bands didn’t get that memo.

The Rolling Stones sang about how they ‘can’t get no satisfaction’. They can’t get no Nobel prize for literature, either.

In Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall they tell us they ‘don’t need no education’. Sorry Floyd but I think you do.

Similarly, TLC’s No Scrubs outlined the many reasons they ‘don’t want no scrubs’. Apparently, no education isn’t one of them. It sounds like the members of Pink Floyd would be a perfect match.

Misuse of Pronouns

A lot of people have difficulty knowing when to use ‘I’ and ‘me’. When you’re the subject of the sentence it’s ‘I’, as in ‘John and I chased a cat.’ When you’re the object of the sentence, it’s ‘me’, as in ‘The cat chased John and me’. If you’re always getting confused, don’t worry too much because a lot of singers have the same problem.

In No One, Alicia Keys just wanted ‘you and me together’. Oops, she actually meant ‘I’.

On the opposite end, Lady Gaga dedicated a whole song to the incorrect pronoun in You and I. ‘There’s something about, baby, you and I’ and it’s the incorrect use of the pronoun ‘I’. Miss Gaga goes on to hammer home her disdain for the word ‘me’ by shouting ‘you and I’ seven times in a single refrain.

Katy Perry’s song The One That Got Away would have been more appropriately titled The One Who Got Away, as long as the subject of the song does in fact refer to a person and not a thing. Maybe she really misses her dog that ran away.

Special mention goes to Lana Del Rey’s Video Games, which is a confusing mess due to her confusing use of pronouns. To understand, I’ve had to post the first three stanzas:

Swinging in the backyard
Pull up in your fast car
Whistling my name

Open up a beer
And you say get over here
And play a video game

I’m in his favorite sun dress
Watching me get undressed
Take that body downtown

The first two lines get this confusing mess of pronouns rolling. The absence of a pronoun in the first line makes it difficult to know just who is swinging in the backyard. Is it you or Lara? Similarly, who’s opening the beer? The third stanza brings in ‘his’, so is she in the favourite dress of some man who is separate to the ‘you’? Also, is it his favourite sun dress of hers or his own?  Who’s watching her get undressed? You? Him? The sun dress?  Then she tells us to take ‘that’ body downtown. It’s not her body or your body. Maybe it’s the body of whoever’s swinging in the backyard. Lana, please sort out your pronouns and then get back to me. I’m horribly confused.

Subject-Verb Agreement

Like double negatives, most people can instantly tell when a subject is in agreement with its verb. This obviously doesn’t include pop stars.

In ringmaster Britney Spears’s Circus ‘there’s only two types of people in the world’. Poor Britney, it sounds fine until you expand the contraction ‘there’s’ and realise she said ‘there is’ instead of ‘there are’.

In Rich Girl, Gwen Stefani tells us what would happen if she ‘was a rich girl’. Hopefully, she’d enrol in some English courses.

Timbaland asked us if we could handle him ‘the way I are’. The answer is a resounding no, at least until he sorts out the am/are distinction.

Non-Existent Words

I don’t mean to pick on Lana Del Rey but when she’s not mixing up her pronouns she’s just plain making up words.  Again in Video Games, Lana says that you’re ‘the bestest’, which is a lovely sentiment but terribly idiotic. She even had the right word and then kept adding to it, presumably trying to make it betterer.

Elvis Presley meanwhile tells us we Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog. While I refute your claim, Elvis, you aren’t anything but a poor grammarian. Even if dear Elvis had correctly used ‘aren’t’, the fact is he is still guilty of a double negative.

The Black Eyed Peas sing I Gotta Feeling. Presumably they were aiming for ‘I’ve got a feeling’ but took a wrong turn in the land of bad grammar.

When Justin Timberlake informed us that What Goes Around comes around he also told us ‘When you cheated girl, my heart bleeded girl’. Fair enough, with all that internal bleeding you’re apt to make a few poor word choices.

Misunderstanding of Irony

I reserve an honorary spot just for Alanis Morissette and her horribly wrong Ironic.

According to Alanis, irony is ‘rain on your wedding day’, ‘a free ride when you’ve already paid’ and ‘good advice that you just didn’t take’. Unfortunately for Alanis, none of these are ironic; they’re just unfortunate or annoying situations. The type of irony Alanis was attempting to explain is situational irony: an outcome or event that is the opposite of what would have been expected. It raining on your wedding day is unfortunate but in no way ironic. Perhaps if you had actively ‘ensured’ against it raining on your wedding day by holding your wedding in a desert where it hadn’t rained for three years and it raining anyway would be ironic. A free ride when you’ve already paid isn’t ironic. You don’t expect to be offered a free ride after paying but you also don’t expect to not be offered a free ride after paying. You just really don’t consider either option. It would perhaps be ironic if after paying you were offered a free ride which you accepted but the free ticket had expired and you were fined for fare evasion.

Sadly, it seems the only ironic thing about Ironic is that none of the situations she sings about are ironic. ‘Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?’

Sayings We’re Saying Wrong

Why are humans so good at saying everything other than what we truly mean? We have so many bizarre sayings I couldn’t even begin to catalogue them all. Some seem senseless and some are used by senseless people. I’ve compiled a little list of some of those sayings that just don’t make sense. You probably hear them often and you probably hear them being used incorrectly just as often.

‘I could care less’

This one drives me the most crazy. People say ‘I could care less’ to show how little they care about something, and yet if they could care less that means they care at least a little. What people should actually be saying is ‘I couldn’t care less’.

‘They did a complete 360’

This saying comes from the fact that there are 360 degrees in a circle, so 360 degrees is a full revolution that takes you back to your starting point. When people say ‘they did a complete 360’ they are actually saying that a person went back to the view or opinion that they originally held. When you mean that a person completely changed their views what you should actually say is they did a 180.

‘The exception that proves the rule’

This saying can actually be used properly although most people fail to do so. People incorrectly use it to discount contradictory evidence to a fact they have stated or observed.

‘John always wears blue pants.’

‘This morning he was wearing green pants.’

‘That’s the exception that proves the rule.’

In situations like this ‘the exception that proves the rule’ makes no sense. The exception has actually proved that no such rule exists. The correct usage of the phrase is for when the existence of an exception to a rule demonstrates that a rule exists. If a sign says ‘Free parking on Sundays’ then it is presumed that on all other days parking is not free. Therefore, free parking on Sunday is the exception that proves the existence of the rule ‘you must pay to park here’.

‘I slept like a baby’

This saying is used to express an excellent quality of sleep. It’s synonymous with ‘I slept soundly’ and yet anyone who has ever had a baby will be able to tell you that a baby’s sleep is the opposite of a peaceful sleep. Babies sleep in short interrupted cycles – hardly conducive to a good night’s rest.

‘beg the question’

A lot of people think this saying means a question that is begging to be asked or something which raises a question. Begging the question is actually a term used in philosophy to mean a circular argument that presumes the truth of the argument a person is trying to make. Its correct usage can be understood as follows:

If someone says, ‘Justin Bieber is the best ever because he’s better than everyone else’ this begs the question. The claim that Justin Bieber is better than everyone else can only be true if the conclusion that he’s the best is already true. Therefore this nine-year-old girl has begged the question because her argument presumes the truth of what she is trying to argue.

 

And just for fun, here’s an expression that sounds wrong but is actually right!

‘Below par’

People use ‘below par’ to describe something that is less than average or expected, as in ‘Susan’s work has been a bit below par lately’. But those familiar with how ‘par’ is used as a golfing expression may find this phrase confusing. In golf, par is the expected average number of shots a person should be able to make a hole in. Thus, scoring below par means that you took less shots than the average person, which is a good thing. Knowing this, it would seem as if performing below par would mean you are doing better than average, not worse. But this is where the English language’s tendency to double up on a word’s meaning creates confusion. In the context of ‘below par’, par refers to its usage in the late 1700s to mean the average amount or quality. So we actually are using this saying correctly.

Words aren’t flawed. People are.

1920’s Slang

I love the glitz and glamour of the 1920’s. Everything just seemed so dandy as everyone hobnobbed and jazzed around everywhere. Even the language managed to capture that sense of freedom and fun. So I’ve compiled a list of some really swell slang from the 20’s. Why not try some out and brighten your day?

All wet – a ridiculous idea or individual

‘Oh God, he wants to go out in the rain without an umbrella. He’s all wet.’

And how – expression of firm agreement

Applesauce – used as an expletive

‘Oh applesauce! I’ve forgotten the applesauce.’

Attaboy – Well done

Balled up – confused or messed up

‘You’ve balled up all my socks. Now I can’t find the ones I want. You’ve got me all balled up.’

Bank’s Closed – no kissing or ‘funny business’

‘I have a sizeable cheque I’d like to deposit in your account.’

‘Sorry, but the bank’s closed.’

‘I wasn’t talking about the bank.’

‘Bank’s closed.’

Bird – general term for a person but sometimes meaning odd, as in ‘funny old bird’

Butt me – To ask for or accept a cigarette

Caper – criminal act

Cat’s meow/pyjamas – fantastic

‘I’ve compiled every cat video on YouTube into the one video. Isn’t that just the cat’s pyjamas?’

Croak – to kill

Daddy – a young woman’s boyfriend or lover, especially if he’s rich

‘I saw Cynthia making out with her daddy. Isn’t that just the cat’s pyjamas?’

Dry up – shut up, get lost

Daisy – not very masculine

Dapper – a flapper’s dad

Glad rags – clothes for going out on the town

‘I’ve got my glad rags on and am ready to have a good time, as long as the bank isn’t closed.’

Grilled – questioned

Handcuff – an engagement ring

Keen – attractive or appealing

‘Now you’re on the trolley!’ – ‘Now you’ve got it/Now you’re right!’

Piker – a cheapskate or a coward

Rag-a-muffin – a dirty or dishevelled individual

‘Oh applesauce! Those rag-a-muffins have spilt applesauce all over my glad rags! The bank will certainly be closed tonight; I don’t care what my daddy says.’

Razz – to make fun of

Spiffy – an elegant appearance

Upchuck – to vomit from having drunk too much

‘Oh I shall razz my daddy something fierce. He’s upchucked all over my glad rags. I could croak him right now.’

Wet Blanket – a solemn person, a killjoy

You slay me – that’s funny

‘What? You’re going to stake me in the heart? Oh, you slay me!’

Pleonasms

People like to advocate the rule to be economical with language as long as that rule doesn’t apply to them. Why are humans so good at coming up with unnecessary phrases? In our increasingly busy world where we haven’t a single second to waste, why do we persist using these redundant little phrases? These redundancies actually have a name: pleonasms. Pleonasms are where more words than necessary are used. Below I’ve compiled a little list of only some of the terrible pleonasms heard daily.

Sit down

Really? Should I not sit up? Sideways? In what other direction am I going to sit but down? Fool.

Now then

Why don’t we just drop the ‘then’?

Guesstimate

I hate almost all portmanteaus (two words blended together to make a new word). But ‘guesstimate’ doesn’t actually create a new word so what’s the point? It means the same thing! An estimate is an educated guess.

Rough estimate

Again, stop! Everyone needs to go out, get a dictionary and look up the meaning of estimate. If it’s precise then it’s not an estimate.

No offense but…

I’m going to offend you/everything/everyone. Seriously, no one has ever started a sentence with ‘No offense but…’ and not gone on to say something offensive.

What an unexpected surprise!

What awful kind of surprise would people actually expect? A surprise that’s expected isn’t a very good surprise. A surprise that’s expected isn’t a surprise at all.

Book in advance

This helpful tip is always given out by restaurants and events that fail to realise how foolish they are. If I’m reserving something I’m doing so in advance. Can I book these tickets after the event?

Cease and desist

Ok, sometimes you add in a synonym to further hammer home your point but seriously please cease and desist saying this.

Each and every

Same as above. Each and every one of you caught saying this is about to get stabbed.

Group consensus

To hell with the group! I reached my own consensus!

End result

As opposed to the beginning result?

Pre-recorded

If it’s recorded, it was done before you watched it. Don’t you just hate recording your show after it’s finished and realising you haven’t recorded it at all?

Past experience

From the experience I’m yet to have…

Armed gunman

Maybe they mean a gunman with arms? As opposed to all those amputee gunmen. Hey, I’m not one to discriminate. If amputees want to rob banks and run around with guns let them. (Please don’t actually let amputees – or anyone else – do this.)

Complete opposite

It’s sort of the opposite but not exactly. It’s, like, half-opposite. Well it’s not actually opposite; it’s just a different thing.

So unique

Like ‘opposite’, there are no varying levels of uniqueness. Something is either unique or not, so one thing can’t be more or less unique than another. So if everyone can stop saying this then that will be, like, soooo good.

My personal opinion

I prefer the alternative for when you’re afraid what you’re about to say is stupid: ‘In the opinion of the man next to me…’

Close proximity

For when you really want to emphasise the proximity of two things in proximity of each other. Sure, my eyes are in proximity to one another but my fist is in close proximity to your face.

Whether or not

This mistake is understandable but ‘whether’ covers both possibilities. ‘Tell me whether you’re coming’ covers both possibilities of someone coming or not.

Not yet

This is used as an excuse by lazy people for not having done something they were supposed to. If you haven’t yet done something then you haven’t done it.

However, I have to admit I’m guilty of ‘not yet’. Even though it’s the same as just saying ‘No’, ‘not yet’ carries a gentler tone and implies that while the answer is no for the moment that will change.

When asked, ‘Have you vacuumed the floor?’, ‘No’ can sound a little like, ‘Nup, f*** ya.’

‘Not yet’ implies that while you haven’t done it yet, you still intend to.

If you know what I mean

The meaning of what you said doesn’t rely nor change dependent on whether we understand you or not. ‘E=mc2, if you know what I mean.’ If we don’t understand what you mean, that doesn’t change the meaning of ‘E=mc2’.

Unless you’re a master of sexual innuendo and you’re using this phrase to slip one in, if you know what I mean.

 

When you think about it, there are so many redundant words and phrases we use every day. If we could just stop using a few of these I would be a happier and saner person. Like Hemingway once said, ‘Goddamnit, stop making stupid with your words’. Oh wait, he didn’t say that.

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