Small mistakes part 4

rogersgeorge on February 2nd, 2012

Some words that many people get wrong:

Nauseous. Nauseous means “causing nausea.” Think green, slimy, glucky, and slightly quivering. Like under-cooked egg white, or what your dog upchucks on the kitchen floor. If you want to say you are experiencing the feeling of wanting to throw up, you say that you are nauseated. Don’t insult yourself by saying 1. that you are green and slimey, or 2. that you don’t know the correct usage of this word. Here’s the quote that reminded me of this error. It’s from one of the best motorcycle mechanics in the world. If your BMW needs fixing, go to him. If your text needs editing, come to me.

Some cool stuff  came out under him  and the low rider makes me nauseous….I would love a new Airhead but that aint gona happen…

Not very different from my bike

Enormity. Enormity means “extremely bad,” not “extremely big.” Yes, it looks like a version of enormous, but you have to go clear back to the Latin before enormous and enormity connect etymologically. Full disclosure: This mistake has been around a long time, a couple hundred years, and a lot of reasonably well-educated folks get it wrong. It’s still a mistake. Here’s the quote that reminded me of this one. It’s from an ebook that I’m considering buying (Chapter 1 is free). I plan to write the author and suggest he consider fixing the error. Easy corrections are another advantage of ebooks!

 “How shall I contact you?” Telisa asked, somewhat overwhelmed by the suddenness and enormity of what he offered.

Gotta show the cover of a sci-fi novel...

Niggardly. Niggardly means stingy. It’s the opposite of “generous.” Some under-educated dolts raised a ruckus a few years ago when someone in the government used this word correctly in a speech. They objected because the word is similar in appearance to nigger, and they didn’t catch the distinction. “Nigger” wasn’t even a racial slur until well into the 20th century. The words are completely unrelated. “Niggard” comes through Middle English from the Scandinavian, and “nigger” (and Negro) can be traced clear back to the Greek. It means “dark.” Speaking of Greek, one of the pastors in the church in Antioch was nicknamed “Blackie.” He was from Ethiopia. That church was integrated! See Acts 13:1, “Simon, who was called Niger…” Anyway, don’t let a bunch of lowbrows keep you from using this perfectly useful word.

Correct usage!

Healthy. Healthy means “possessing good health.” You are healthy. Your dog is healthy. Use Healthful to mean “causing good health.” Apples and exercise are healthful. And you don’t need a picture of an apple.

English has hundreds of words that can be confused, but these four are a good start to get right.

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