Author Archives: Bryan A. Garner

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: jodhpur.

jodhpur. “Jodhpur” /JOD-puhr/ derives from the city of Jodhpur, India. The word (almost invariably used in the plural) refers to a type of flared-at-the-thigh pants used in English horse-riding. Through a kind of visual metathesis, the word is often mispronounced … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: jocular; jocose; jocund.

jocular; jocose; jocund. “Jocular” (/JOK-yuh-luhr/) is the most common, but the other two aren’t quite needless variants. “Jocular” and “jocose” (/joh-KOHS/) both mean “given to joking” or “intended jokingly; humorous.” But “jocular” suggests a playful disposition {her jocular manner endeared … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #183: What’s wrong with initial-caps point headings?

LawProse Lesson #183  What’s wrong with initial-caps point headings in briefs?      Two things. First, most lawyers don’t know how to type text in initial caps properly. But second—and far more important—proper point headings must capsulize points. They’re complete … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: jeopardize; jeopard; enjeopard.

jeopardize; jeopard; enjeopard. H.W. Horwill wrote that in American English “‘jeopard’ is preferred to ‘jeopardize,’ the common term in England.” Modern American Usage 178 (2d ed. 1944). This wasn’t true in 1944, and it isn’t true today — e.g.: o … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: awful; awfully.

awful; awfully. The word awful has undergone several transformations. Originally, it meant “inspiring or filled with aw.” Its meaning then degenerated to “horrible, terrible” [what an awful accident]. And awfully, meanwhile, became an equivalent of very but with greater intensity … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: aquaculture.

aquaculture. Aquaculture (= the cultivation of marine life) is now the standard spelling. *Aquiculture–once given as the main headword in most American dictionaries–is now a variant. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ==================== – – – – – – … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: misnomer.

misnomer. Speakers and writers frequently misuse this word, meaning “an inappropriate name,” to mean “a popular misconception” — e.g.: “‘The last I remember, only 7 percent of Division I programs operate in the black. The common misnomer [read 'misunderstanding'] is … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #182: “Home in” and *”hone in.”

Home in and *hone in. Home in is the correct phrase, meaning “to proceed toward (a target)” or “direct attention to (a thing, idea, or objective)” {after flying a few miles, the pigeon homed in on the cage} {in the … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: fundament.

fundament. “Fundament” = (1) basis; or (2) anus or buttocks. Sense 2 is more common in British English than in American — e.g.: “There is even a 12-step group for people addicted to 12-step groups — which is very Fight … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. -fy. Most verbs ending in “-fy” — from the French “-fier” or Latin “-ficare” “to do or make” — are preceded by an “-i-” {classify}. But a few aren’t {liquefy} {putrefy} {stupefy} because the corresponding infinitives in French … Continue reading

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