Tag Archives: words

#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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#WordUse Series: ’Til? Till? Until?

The word until can be a preposition (it took until late that evening to unload the truck, for example) or a conjunction (we kept unloading until it got dark) and for many years I believed the shortened version of this word was ’til. You know—like ’til is a truncation of until, with the apostrophe indicating […]

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#WordUse Series:
You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

I admit I’m sometimes out of the loop. (Or behind the curve. Or whatever.) I don’t watch television and it’s only me up here in the swanky second-floor office in the pink house with the blue door, so whole fads pass me by. Whole memes pass me by. But I am up on my word usage, kids. And Your […]

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#WordUse Series:
Gosh, I Had No Idea!

One of my authors was dismayed, recently, when he got a disturbing letter from a young reader who took his book back to the bookstore without finishing it because we (the author, his publisher, and me, his editor) had used the word gosh. The letter came complete with a photocopy of the page in Webster’s […]

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#WordUse Series:
Many Teaspoonsful of Sugar Help the Medicine Go Down …

My Facebook friends and I engaged in an etymological rabbit chase the other day. I do, seriously, get a kick out of this stuff, even if I really should be working instead of hopping around my office pulling reference books off the shelves. One friend wrote: Yesterday, I posted a comment to you in which […]

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