Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: row to hoe.

row to hoe.

“Row to hoe” is an agricultural or gardening metaphor meaning “a challenging and perhaps arduous project” {it’s going to be a tough row to hoe}. Sometimes it’s ludicrously written as the mondegreen *”road to hoe,” especially in sportswriting — e.g.:

o “Though victories over Newcastle and Aston Villa showed Leicester how they can preserve their status, it will be a hard road [read ‘row’] to hoe this winter.” Michael Henderson, “Leicester Dig in for Long, Hard Winter,” Times ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: routinize.

routinize.

“Routinize” (= to develop into a regular schedule) is pronounced either /ROO-tuh-nIz/ or /roo-TEE-nIz/. Although this word (dating from the early 1920s) sometimes smacks of gobbledygook, it’s also difficult to replace — e.g.:

o “The raunchiness that some, at least, admired in the earlier book has been replaced by routinized descriptions of the hydraulics of moderately unroutine sex.” K. Anthony Appiah, “Identity Crisis,” N.Y. Times, 17 Sept. 1995, § 7, at 42.

o “Moreover, teachers can be trained to teach a ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

resister; resistor. “Resister” = one who resists. “Resistor” is the electrical term.

resolution; motion. These terms carry distinct meanings in parliamentary procedure. When a deliberative assembly passes a “resolution,” the assembly is formally expressing its opinion about something — but no official action is taken. But when an assembly member raises a “motion,” the assembly is considering a formal proposal for action — and if the motion carries, the action will be taken.

resolvable; *resolvible; resoluble. “Resolvable” is far more common ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: rid/rid/rid.

rid/rid/rid.

*”Ridded” is a variant form to be avoided — e.g.:

o “The fish-eating public had a heyday the last time Williams and Badger were ridded [read ‘rid’] of non-game fish.” Rich Landers, “State Won’t Take Chance with Rotenone,” Spokesman-Rev. (Spokane), 21 Sept. 1995, at C1.

o “When the night was over, Shaw had made $20 and had ridded [read ‘rid’] the world of one more TV set.” Paul Glader, “Bright Ones Bust the Boob Tube,” Indianapolis Star, 17 Apr. 1997, at ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: rhyme; rime.

rhyme; rime.

“Rhyme” means generally (1) “the correspondence of sound in words or lines of verse”; or (2) “a poem or poetry.” “Rime” means “the icy crystals on a freezing surface; frost.” Because of this long-standing differentiation, “rime” as a variant of “rhyme” ought to be discouraged.

Historically, though, “rime” is correct for “poetry.” But a linguist once incorrectly traced the native Middle English word “rime” to a Greek antecedent, and as a result generations of schoolchildren have learned to use ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: rhetoric.

rhetoric.

“Rhetoric” = (1) the art of using language persuasively; the rules that help one achieve eloquence; (2) the persuasive use of language; (3) a treatise on persuasive language; and (4) prose composition as a school subject. These are the main senses outlined in the OED, which also records “ironical or jocular” uses from the late 16th century to the mid-19th century (such as this from 1742: “The rhetoric of John the hostler, with a new straw hat, and a ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

reprise; reprisal. “Reprise” = (1) /ri-PRIYZ/ an annual deduction, duty, or payment out of a manor or estate, as an annuity or the like; or (2) /ri-PREEZ/ (in music) a repetition of a theme or (in the performing arts) a repetition of a performance or role. “Reprisal” /ri-PRIY-zuhl/ = an act of retaliation, usu. of one nation against another but short of war.

repudiatory; *repudiative. Despite the OED’s suggestion to the contrary, “repudiatory” is the usual term — *”repudiative” ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: ring/rang/rung; ringed.

ring/rang/rung; ringed.

Senses that relate to encircling take the regular “-ed” inflections in the past tense and past participle {the enemy ringed the encampment}. Senses that relate to sound — the more usual senses — take the irregular inflections “ring/rang/rung” {the telephone rang}.

The past-participial “rung” is often misused as a simple-past verb — e.g.: “Rich Pilon is not known for his soft hands but his hard fists; he rung [read ‘rang’] up 291 penalty minutes last season.” Keith Gave, “Eastern ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: root around.

root around.
“Root around” (= to poke about) is preferably so spelled — not *”rout around” or *”route around.” But the illogical slips are fairly common — e.g.:

o “Maybe he should rout [read ‘root’] around in the attic for that pirate flag.” “The Fall of an American Icon,” BusinessWeek, 5 Feb. 1996, at 34.

o “Some of these [hotels] are available via Planet Hawaii, though users might have to route [read ‘root’] around for them.” Donna Marino, “Surfing the ‘Net,'” Tour ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: rock ‘n’ roll; rock-‘n’-roll; rock’n’roll; rock and roll; rock-and-roll; rock & roll.

rock ‘n’ roll; rock-‘n’-roll; rock’n’roll; rock and roll; rock-and-roll; rock & roll.

Each of these is listed in at least one major American dictionary.

“Rock ‘n’ roll” is probably the most common; appropriately, it has a relaxed and colloquial look.

“Rock and roll” and “rock-and-roll” are somewhat more formal than the others and therefore not very fitting with the music itself. The others are variant spellings — except that “rock-‘n’-roll,” with the hyphens, is certainly preferable when the term is used as ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: riff; rift (2).

riff; rift (2).

Today: “rift.”

“Rift” arose in Middle English in the sense “a fissure or divide; a split or crack” — the meaning it still carries. E.g.: “Word out of Washington is that Bondra wants to change teams because of a rift with coach Ron Wilson.” Nancy Marrapese-Burrell, “End-of-the-Year Sale,” Boston Globe, 1 Oct. 2000, at D2. Occasionally the term also refers to the rapids formed by rocks protruding from the bed of a stream. It formerly also meant ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Language-Change Index.

Language-Change Index.

The third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage reflects several new practices. Invariably inferior forms, for example, are now marked with asterisks preceding the term or phrase, a marking common in linguistics.

The most interesting new feature is the Language-Change Index. Its purpose is to measure how widely accepted various linguistic innovations have become. Such a measuring system for usage guides was first proposed by Louis G. Heller and James Macris in 1967. They noted that “usage specialists can ...

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