verbatim; literatim; ipsissima verba. These apparent synonyms carry slight nuances. “Verbatim” = word for word. “Literatim” = letter for letter. Sometimes the phrase “verbatim et literatim” is seen. “Ipsissima verba” (lit., “the selfsame words”) = the exact language used by someone quoted (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary [11th ed.]).
verdict refers to a jury’s pronouncement. It shouldn’t be used in reference to a court’s decision — e.g.: “Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor jerked forward in her black leather chair, visibly astonished. . . . The verdict [read 'decision'] is expected next year.” Keith C. Epstein, “Ohio Free Speech Case Shocks Supreme Court,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 13 Oct. 1994, at A3. Language-Change Index — “verdict” in reference to a judge’s decision: Stage 2.
vermilion. So spelled.
vertebra (= a single bone that, together with similar bones, forms the spinal column) has two plurals: “vertebrae” (/VUHR-tuh-bree/ or /VUHR-tuh-bray/) and “vertebras” (/VUHR-tuh-bruhz/). The Latinate plural (“vertebrae”) is so common that some writers mistake it for a singular — e.g.: “There were fears that he could be crippled after the fall, but an operation successfully treated a fractured vertebrae [read 'vertebra'].” Charles Laurence, “Death Fall: British Skydiver Flies Home,” Daily Telegraph, 5 July 1997, at 3. Language-Change Index — “vertebrae” misused as a singular for “vertebra”: Stage 1.
vertical, adj., is sometimes misspelled *”verticle” — e.g.: “To achieve that goal, the companies said they will test verticle-takeoff [read 'vertical-takeoff'] and landing technology.” “McDonnell-Boeing Aim: Cheaper Space Travel,” Orange County Register, 16 June 1995, at C2.
vestigial. So spelled; *”vestigal” is a not-uncommon misspelling.
Veterans Administration. “Veterans” takes no apostrophe.
*Invariable inferior form.
For information about the Language-Change Index click here.
Quotation of the Day: “The progress of language is the absorption of new analogies.” T.E. Hulme, Notes on Language and Style 15 (1929).