Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: RSVP.

RSVP.

The abbreviation of the French phrase “répondez s’il vous plaît” (= respond if you please) is the standard request for responses to invitations. Because the phrase contains the polite idea of “please,” it’s redundant to say *”please RSVP.”

Increasingly, American English is making the acronym a verb meaning either “to respond” {have you RSVP’d yet?} or “to make reservations” {admission is free, but be sure to RSVP at least two days beforehand}. That’s probably why *”please RSVP” is becoming so ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

resurface, like “surface,” may be intransitive or transitive, though the meanings differ. “Resurface” = (1) to come to the top again {he resurfaced in the middle of the pond}; or (2) to put a new top on {the state resurfaced the road}.

resuscitate. So spelled.

retaliatory; retaliative. The two forms have undergone differentiation. The first means “of, relating to, or constituting retaliation” {retaliatory eviction}, whereas the second means “vindictive, tending to retaliation” {a retaliative landlord}.

retirement; *retiral; *retiracy. “Retirement,” of course, ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: ruin, n.; ruination.

ruin, n.; ruination.

“Ruin” is the ordinary term. “Ruination,” which is quite common, has traditionally been humorous and colloquial, but today often seems to convey a special earnestness or acknowledged hyperbole — e.g.:

o “The increasing involvement of player agents is leading to the ruination of professional sports, claims columnist Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.” Shav Glick, “Morning Briefing,” L.A. Times, 14 Oct. 1995, at C2.

o “They’re liable to slip in a bit about their faith, and you ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Denizen Labels (2).

Denizen Labels (2).

Today: U.S. States and Cities.

The preferred names for residents of some places are not immediately obvious. Listed below are some of those terms that are associated with U.S. states and cities. USGPO refers to the U.S. Government Printing Office Manual of Style.

Arkansas: Arkansan, Arkansawyer, Arkie. Connecticut: Nutmegger, Connecticuter (USGPO). Delaware: Delawarean. Illinois: Illinoisan /il-uh-NOY-uhn/ (pref. not Illinoisian). Indiana: Hoosier, Indianan, Indianian. Iowa: Iowan, Iowegian. Massachusetts: Bay Stater (by state law), Massachusettsan (USGPO). Michigan: Michigander (by popular consensus), ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Denizen Labels (1).

Denizen Labels (1).

Today: Generally.

What do you call someone from . . . ? Often that’s not an easy question. Residents of Columbus, Ohio (or Georgia, Nebraska, or Indiana) are called “Columbusites.” But someone from the town of Columbus, Mississippi, is called a “Columbian.” Those inconsistencies can be confusing, but they’re usually undisputed within a given locale.

Sometimes even the authorities can’t agree. Someone from Michigan is (formerly by statute) a “Michiganian” — but many in Michigan prefer to be called ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: exquisite.

exquisite.

Part A: Pronunciation. The word is better pronounced with the first syllable accented /EK-skwiz-it/; in American English, however, stressing the second (/ek-SKWIZ-it/) is acceptable.

Part B: Use. Although there is historical justification for using “exquisite” (= acute) in reference to pain, modern readers are likely to find this use macabre at best, for they generally understand the word as meaning “keenly discriminating” {exquisite taste} or “especially beautiful” {an exquisite vase}.

For many readers, the obsolescent sense is merely a miscue — ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

reverend. In denoting a member of the clergy, this term has traditionally been restricted to adjectival uses, as one newspaper acknowledged after being upbraided by a careful reader: “We referred correctly to the Rev. Wiley Drake, . . . but an inside subhead read, ‘The reverend says.’ Some dictionaries recognize reverend as a colloquial noun form referring to a member of the clergy, but our stylebook doesn’t; the word is an adjective.” Pat Riley, “The Rev. Robert Ross Offers ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: salutary; *salutiferous; salubrious.

salutary; *salutiferous; salubrious.
“Salutary” = beneficial; wholesome. “Salutory”* is a common misspelling, especially in British English — e.g.:

o “Fans of the gone-but-not-forgotten Butterflies should rush to see Wendy Craig in this salutory [read ‘salutary’] tale about how not to treat your relatives.” “Pick of the Day: Sleeping Beauty,” Independent, 19 Dec. 1995, at 10.

o “The Mirror’s coverage of the subsequent inquiry provides a salutory [read ‘salutary’] reminder of how much has changed in popular journalism.” Niall Dickson, “Child Protection: Press ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sailor; sailer.

sailor; sailer.

A “sailor” is one who sails — always in reference to a person. A “sailer” is a vessel or vehicle that sails, or that moves by the use of a sail — e.g.: “The second part of the project is to launch an operational solar sailer with eight sails to be tested in an 850-km. (528-mi.) circular orbit, also using a Volna rocket.” Michael A. Dornheim, “Solar Sail Test to Launch This Week,” Aviation Week & Space Tech., ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

retributive; retributory; *retributional; *retributionary. “Retributive” = of or characterized by retribution. E.g.: “But justice will be served if the settlement is preventive, not just retributive.” “The Cigarette Pact,” Boston Globe, 25 June 1997, at A20. “Retributory” has the added sense “causing or producing retribution.” E.g.: “Many of the investment banks . . . were hit by retributory legislation.” Robert Sobel, “Kicking and Screaming,” Barron’s, 20 May 1996, at A43. But euphony often governs the choice. “Retributional”* and *”retributionary” ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

revise; redact; recense. The first is the ordinary word. The second and third refer specifically to revising texts with close scrutiny. “Redact” = (1) to make a draft of; or (2) to edit. In American law, it is often used in the sense “to edit out or mask the privileged, impertinent, or objectionable matter in a document.” “Recense” is more of a literary term; it relates to scholarly editing of ancient texts and the like.

reviser; *revisor. The first is ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Denizen Labels (2).

Denizen Labels (2).

Today: U.S. States and Cities.

The preferred names for residents of some places are not immediately obvious. Listed below are some of those terms that are associated with U.S. states and cities. USGPO refers to the U.S. Government Printing Office Manual of Style.

Arkansas: Arkansan, Arkansawyer, Arkie. Connecticut: Nutmegger, Connecticuter (USGPO). Delaware: Delawarean. Illinois: Illinoisan /il-uh-NOY-uhn/ (pref. not Illinoisian). Indiana: Hoosier, Indianan, Indianian. Iowa: Iowan, Iowegian. Massachusetts: Bay Stater (by state law), Massachusettsan (USGPO). Michigan: Michigander (by popular consensus), ...

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