21 of the Most Misused words in the English Language

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ganado, Nov 4, 2016.


  1. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    More trivia... I frequently misuse a few of these. and 17 is one of those I know and I shake my head when I hear it


    Modern English is an interesting language - it's constantly evolving. Words are altered and definitions are updated accordingly. We can’t all be linguists, but we should know how to use the words we choose correctly.

    1. Compelled
    What they think it means:
    To do something voluntarily by choice.
    What it actually means: To be forced or obligated to doing something.
    To be compelled is to be forced to do something, regardless of whether you actually want to do it or not.

    2. Bemused
    What they think it means:
    Amused.
    What it actually means: Confused.
    While it sounds similar to Amused, its meaning is completely different. It originally comes from the middle-English words Be, which is an intensifier, and Muse, which is to contemplate.

    3. Irony
    What they think it means:
    Something that's funny.
    What it actually means: Contrary to what you're expecting.
    From the Greek word “eirōneia” - meaning “to simulate ignorance”. There are different kinds of irony but they generally are the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite.

    4. Redundant
    What they think it means:
    Repetitive.
    What it actually means: Unnecessarily excessive.
    Not all repetition is redundant. Something becomes redundant only when there's too much of it.

    5. Effect
    What they think it means:
    To cause something to change.
    What it actually means: An event that causes a change.
    If an individual wants to change another’s opinion, the individual will need to affect it somehow. The action taken was the effect that caused the change of opinion.

    6. Travesty
    What they think it means:
    A tragedy or something unfortunate.
    What it actually means: A mockery or parody.
    The death of Robin Williams was a tragedy.When some individuals made jokes about it – it was a travesty.

    7. i.e.
    What they think it means:
    For example.
    What it actually means: In other words.
    From the Latin “Id Est” (meaning: in that), i.e. is used when you want repeat something in a different manner – i.e. to say something again in another way.

    8. Plethora
    What they think it means:
    A lot of something.
    What it actually means: More than is needed.
    From the Greek “plēthōrē”, meaning “Be full”. 10,000 people in a stadium isn't a plethora of people, but put them in a small house and they suddenly become a plethora.

    9. Disinterested
    What they think it means:
    Bored.
    What it actually means: Neutral.
    If you are bored – you are uninterested (it doesn’t interest you). But if you are disinterested – you simply don’t care either way.

    10. Obsolete
    What they think it means:
    Old, out of date.
    What it actually means: Not produced, used, or needed.
    You might think that your old cellphone is obsolete, and you might be right, because that model probably isn't produced anymore. However, cellphones on the whole are still produced, used and needed, so cellphones in themselves are not obsolete. A good example of something that is obsolete is a steam engine – they’re so inefficient compared to today’s combustion and electric engines, that no-one produces, uses or needs them.

    11. Chronic
    What they think it means:
    Severe.
    What it actually means: Over the course of a long time.
    A person with chronic pain is not necessarily in severe pain, but has been experiencing the pain for a long time.

    12. Nauseous
    What they think it means:
    To feel ill.
    What it actually means: To cause feelings of illness.
    If you say that you are nauseous – you’re actually saying that you cause nausea in others. Instead, the word you should be using is nauseated.

    13. Peruse
    What they think it means:
    To skim or browse.
    What it actually means: To observe in depth.
    This word originates from 15th Century English. “Per”, meaning thoroughly, and Use. If you peruse a book, you are reading it with your full concentration, possibly re-reading it several times.

    14. Defective
    What they think it means:
    That something is broken or it has missing pieces.
    What it actually means: Simply that it’s broken.
    Imagine if you were to buy two new smartphones. One cannot be turned on, and the other’s screen is in pieces. The first is not defective, but rather deficient. The latter is indeed defective, as it’s literally broken.

    15. Enormity
    What they think it means:
    Huge, enormous.
    What it actually means: Profoundly immoral or evil.
    From the Latin “enormitas”, meaning ‘deviation from legal or moral rectitude’, enormity can only be used to describe size or quantity in regard to something that is perceived as bad (or worse).

    16. Fortuitous
    What they think it means:
    Lucky.
    What it actually means: By chance.
    A fortuitous event differs from an event of luck by being neutral. If you find a winning lottery ticket on the street, that is lucky. If you then slip and fall, losing the ticket, that is fortuitous.

    17. Can
    What they think it means:
    What is permissible.
    What it actually means: What is possible.
    If you were to ask me: “Can I have a drink?”, you’re not asking me if you are allowed to have a drink, but rather, if you are actually capable of drinking.

    18. Literally
    What they think it means:
    Figuratively.
    What it actually means: Actually.
    What you use “Literally”, you’re saying that something happened in the literal sense of the word and not as a figure of speech. If you were to say “There were literally a million cars on the road” then it means that the number of cars on the road was exactly one million, no more, no less.

    19. Total
    Total means exactly what people think it means but it is used unnecessarily on a frequent basis. When there is a total of 50 people, the total is 50 whether or not you use the word “total”. You might hear someone say that they were totally surprised. Surprise is not a conditional emotion - You were either surprised, or you were not. The use of total doesn't add anything of value to the sentence.

    20. Conversate
    What they think it means:
    To have a conversation.
    What it actually means: Nothing.
    It comes from a mix of “Converse” and “Conversation”, but it's simply not a real word and it doesn't have meaning.

    21. Irregardless
    What they think it means:
    Without regard.
    What it actually means: Nothing.
    Like conversate above, irregardless isn’t actually a word. When people say irregardless, they actually mean to say regardless.
     
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    And... I sit here trying to imagine one sentence using all of those... :rolleyes:
     
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  3. Seepalaces

    Seepalaces Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I struggle with irony and coincidence. Even when I worked at a major university, people made fun of my inability to really nail the difference. Oi.
     
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Sheesh... I have trouble with then and than.... :ROFLMAO:
     
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  5. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Hmmm...I respectfully disagree on this assessment. There are degrees of surprise, ranging from slight to a myocardial infarction ;)

    The last two ("conversate" & "irregardless") are akin to scratching fingernails on a chalkboard....arrgh!

    Also, if you have "effect" then "affect" should closely follow suit (although it is mentioned in the explanation)...they are often and erroneously interchanged. Ditto "can" vs. "may."

    One heck of a nice list overall !
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
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  6. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    regardless of what you may think of irregardless, it was in the last year recognized as a word. since it is one of grumpy @ghrit s pet peeves I addressed it and posted a link in the shoutbox about it. no I can not magically pull that link out of my *%^^* at this moment. Frankly Scarlet, I don't give a damn".
     
  7. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    It falls under colloquialisms...it may be a word, but it doesn't make it a proper part of the language...like "ginormous" [werd][beer]
     
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  8. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    21 is to many two remember by too...
     
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  9. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Yeah. Much easier to learn it over the years in school than to relearn it in light of public exposure. Even more difficult if you are wearing a tu-tu.
     
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  10. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    The old communicologist in me might argue that a word means whatever both the sender and receiver perceive it to mean...but he won't.

    [peep]
     
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  11. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey Site Supporter++

    Et too, Ghrittus?
     
  12. Legion489

    Legion489 Rev. 2:19 Banned

    Yeah, right.
     
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  13. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    I'm not a semanticist, but I do recognize the fact that more than half of those "definitions" were not wholly accurate, and the description may very well explain one use of the word in question, but not another in a specific context.

    The bulk of the arrangement is irregular or focuses on an unimportant detail, while #1, 2, 3, 4, 17 and 18 are most accurate and follow traditional rules. Oh, and point number 20 is just plain comical. (y)
     
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  14. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Couple more to add:
    Subscribe vs ascribe
    Less vs fewer
     
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  15. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    There are several there I knew well some surprised me .
    It seems that many people copy one another, rather than remembering the english classes they passed in school, how sad.
    I still see/hear people say the phrase, "Me and my family", rather than, "my family and I". people really have become inherently selfish.
    It's like people have lost the value of clear communications.
    There is so little interest in using the correct definition for things like a magazine or a clip or cylinder. Seems even people writing for advertisements and magazines don't know the proper words for things and that only confuses the novice all the more.
    I'm no grammar nazi ,and had plenty of others reteaching me english , it's embarrassing but you know what , I appreciate it.
     
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  16. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

    just when i was thinking there was nothing to read on this blog
     
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  17. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    We're not even getting into poor grammar!

    "to" vs. "too"
    "their" vs. "there" and "they're"
    "your" vs. "you're" (this is a big one)

    :mad:
     
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  18. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King |RIP 11-4-2017

    And my particular pet peeve...then/than
     
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  19. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

    i am so glad this blog got on to something important
     
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  20. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    sorry @john316 I was having political and the world is going to hell overload.... I needed something not so significant. It may be distracting but if I'm gonna die, lose my home, guns, be stabbed, electrocuted by EMP...... I want some fun mixed in as well [touchdown][kissit]
     
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