Every copy editor and logophile will, from time to time, get roped into an argument about what the word decimate means and how it should be used. Etymological purists get upset when they find the word being used to indicate any general drastic reduction in the size of something. The exact size of the reduction, these purists argue, is inherent in the word itself: decimate stems from the Latin root decem, for the number ten, so the word must mean "to reduce in size by ten percent."
The Associated Press Stylebook has added to its burgeoning entry on global warming (now 261 words), counseling against the use of skeptics and deniers when talking about those who don’t think global warming is such a big deal or say that we can’t really do much about it.
The way we torture ourselves with lay and lie is one of the great puzzles of the English language. We use different versions of the word depending on tense and whether there is an object we’re acting upon.
Anyone who has suffered the utter horror of a gritty mouthful of undissolved sugar from the bottom of a glass of iced tea* will find it fitting that the Sanskrit word from which sugar is derived, śarkarā, also means "gravel." That same Sanskrit word also led to two homophones whose spellings can be confused by even the most diligent proofreaders: saccharine and saccharin.
There is never a bad time to contemplate kindness. But today —when millions in the U.S. are remembering the shocking loss that occurred fourteen years ago on 9/11 and since — today seems like a particularly good day for it.
It was last month that the lamentations began: “I can’t believe summer is almost over.” Now that it is September and 84 degrees in central Ohio, many look to Labor Day weekend as the last hurrah of summer.
That has more to do with the school schedule than climate. For astronomers, summer stretches between the equinoxes, vernal and autumnal. For those in the northern hemisphere, which includes central Ohio, that means we don’t need to stop calling it summer until Sept. 23, at 8:20 a.m. to be specific.
Moneys and monies are plural forms of the word money, which already acts as a plural itself. The -ys or -ies spelling depends on your stylebook or your personal preference, but it isn’t common that you need to use either. Usually, money is all you need.
On this day in 1959, Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state, staggering the rows of stars on the flag and those looking for cheap domestic flights to paradise.
If an Island Hoppers tour isn’t in your immediate future, you can still celebrate Statehood Day: pick a ukulele playlist, grab a Kona coffee (or a Blue Hawaii), and unscramble these dozen words associated with Hawaii.