ERR [ur]: to stray, to drift away from the stated purpose


I have to be honest and say that my primary purpose for featuring the word err today is not about its definition; it is about its pronunciation.   Just about everyone knows that to err is to make a mistake, to wander away from an intent. The supposedly biblical phrase is so often quoted: “To err […]

EXPEDIENT: fit to fulfill a purpose


Every now and then I discover that I’ve been using a word incorrectly.  Being somewhat of a wordsmith, this is embarrassing, to say the least.   Such is the case for the word expedient. I have been using this word for years, thinking that it meant speedily, or in good time.  For some reason, there […]

HORRIFIC: terrible, dreadful

There is a whole range of words that describe a terrible event such as the one we are following in Newtown, Connecticut.  But the one which surfaces most frequently, it would seem, is that of horrific. Horrific is a word that comes to the English language from Latin, meaning to bristle with fear.  I’m afraid […]

ALL RIGHT: just fine, okay

“During an Orlando Magic game against the visiting Knicks, cheerleader Jamie Woode fell on her head on the court while attempting a trick, and had to be taken to a local hospital. The incident caused a delay in the game, and although she had to be taken to a second hospital, word is that Woode […]

OTIOSE [OH-shee-ohs]: unneeded, not useful

“I’ve never heard the word before.”   If you just said that, welcome to the crowd.  Admittedly, even the experts say that it is obscure and irrelevant.  Bryan Garner, one of the linguistic experts I consult, says: “You might say the word itself is otiose.” That’s a pretty shallow  commendation  for the word, which, Garner […]

TROOP: a collective noun indicating a band of soldiers, scouts, or other gatherings of people

When I was a kid I belonged to a Boy Scout troop.   It was a sizable gathering of boys who were divided into smaller units called patrols.  An individual who belonged to a troop was called a scout. State Police who are assigned to a specific segment of a state for service are called a […]