Category Archives: Words & Language

A Lighter Shade of Pale (#WordUse Series)

We’ve got exciting times goin’ on here in the good ol’ US of A, with one political party making some pretty interesting claims and the opposing party reacting with outrage. (See how I did that?) My Irish immigrant husband has spent hours watching debates and newscasts and commentaries on the television. He also follows the […]

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Short Saturday: May You Live in Interesting Times!

One looks for the good, I think. So recently some of us have been repeating that old saw, May you live in interesting times. A Chinese curse, we’re told. Or a blessing. May you live in interesting times. But … it’s not Chinese. :) I know, I know, I’m a wet blanket about these things—but […]

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#WordUse Series: Dear Kroger
(Why You Need an Editor #5,278)

Sent in early December … Dear Kroger, Y’all spend a lot of money on these lovely multipage mailers with recipes and beautiful photography and coupons. (I have an idea about how much these things cost, what with the photo shoots and the graphic designers, the postage, and, oh, the copywriters. You have 2,400 stores in […]

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#WordUse Series:
What’s In a Name? That Which We Call a Pudding …

I grew up the child of two Midwesterners of modest means, so I knew from an early age about pudding—it was that powder Mom mixed with milk on her old Kenmore mixer until it thickened, then put in the fridge to cool and thicken a little more. You know—like a soft custard.* But … not […]

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#WordUse Series:
Merry Melancholy Christmas

On Christmas Eve last year, I was alone in the house, awaiting my son’s arrival from out of town the next morning. It was a quiet—but happily anticipatory—time. When I posted a comment on Facebook— A little melancholy tonight … but my heart is full. I am blessed in so, so many ways. Merry Christmas, […]

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#WordUse Series:
May the Blessing of the Rain Be on You

We’ve had a drought here in the American South. It stopped raining in early August and didn’t start again until early December, after the irrigation system had been turned off for some weeks. So it seemed only appropriate to republish this post from 2012—a sort of written rain dance. Let me know how it works […]

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#WordUse Series:
The Soda / Pop Conundrum

My siblings and I talk like Midwesterners, although none of us live there (or have ever lived there). Our mother was a Midwesterner: born and raised in Chicago. Daddy was also a Midwesterner, born/raised in St. Louis, although he had Southern roots: his mother was born/raised in Tennessee, as were her people, while his father’s […]

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#WordUse Series:
Words I Never Want to See in Your Novel. Please.

When I get to the end of an edit, I generally make a list of the author’s “favorite” words and phrases—words he or she used over and over without realizing it. It’s quite instructive. Usually they are words like so and well used at the beginning of sentences of dialogue. Often it’s amazing (and you know how I feel about that!). Smirk shows up […]

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#WordUse Series:
On Stationery. And Guilds. And Vocabulary Words.

Stationery is an old-fashioned word. Or maybe I just think it’s old-fashioned because I learned it a long time ago and I don’t see it used much any more, given our electronic culture. But no, my fave dictionary lists it as having appeared in 1688—which is old enough, but its etymology is stationer, which we’re told by the same […]

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#WordUse Series:
Step Away From the Thesaurus and No One Gets Hurt

You know I love my thesaurus, right? I do. I have at least four of them, from various decades dating back to the ’40s (you’d be surprised how useful that is), as well as a rhyming dictionary, a slang dictionary, and something called the Flip Dictionary, which is more fun than any dictionary has a right […]

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