Word count: 254 Reading time: 1-2 minutes
When I was a teenager I discovered the wonderful word irregardless. I thought it made me sound articulate and worldly, at least as smart as Denny J. who regularly challenged teachers with words like differentiate and prevaricate. It was Denny who, with the arch of an eyebrow, pointed out that the correct word was regardless. I slunk off and checked it in a dictionary only to discover that he was right. Yet again.
As a kind of self defence these days I keep two dictionaries beside the computer and Dictionary.com lives on my favourites bar. I make enough mistakes by using the wrong homophone not because I don’t know the difference between there and they’re but because my brain delivers the sound to my fingers and sometimes they have a will of their own. Those errors I can only hope to pick up in revision or when my sharp-eyed writing partner (thanks, Allison) sees what I mean instead of what I’ve written.
So I try to avoid the bigger mistakes of using words like nonplussed to mean unworried or untroubled by an event, or cache when I mean cachet. Every day I check many words, words that I thought I knew well. And now, with new words and meanings creeping into the language almost daily, the Online Slang Dictionary has made its way onto my favourites bar as well.
What words trip you up? How often do you reach for a dictionary or dig deeper for clarity of something you thought you already knew?
Photo by: Maggie Bolitho