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commonly misused words

Which Word Wednesday: Conscience vs. Conscious

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Words that sound alike are easy to mix up, especially when you are speaking quickly or you are under pressure. Our brains grab for one word but spit out its second-cousin-once-removed—the words are related, but do not have the same meaning. Today’s Which Word Wednesday features one such word pair,…

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Which Word Wednesday: Toward vs. Towards

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Lynne Truss—author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves—compares herself to the little boy from The Sixth Sense. She says that instead of seeing dead people, she sees dead language. I can also see dead language. I also see lifeless punctuation. It’s the little things that make my ears itch, like the…

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Which Word Wednesday: Acronym vs. Initialism

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Long before prescriptivists were lamenting the onset of mobile phone text-speak, there were abbreviations like laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) and scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) and USA (United States of America). Abbreviations come in two flavors: acronyms and initialisms. This week’s Which Word Wednesday looks at…

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Which Word Wednesday: Geek vs. Nerd

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When I was in junior high and high school, TV shows and movies highlighted the awkward lives of the socially inept. These were lovable-yet-dorky characters like Sarah Jessica Parker’s Patty Greene in Square Pegs. At that time, being nerdy or geeky was not something to strive for. Today, being quirky…

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Which Word Wednesday: Oppress vs. Suppress

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If we lived in isolation, there would be no need for Which Word Wednesday. (And how sad our Wednesdays would be!) With no one to talk to, everything we thought or spoke aloud to ourselves would make sense. There would be no miscommunications or misunderstandings. It is in community that…

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