In the course of reading the 400+ queries that came in while I was away (answered!), I saw my share of homonym problems, which I usually just chalk up to typos. There’s one, however, that gets me every time: peak/peek/pique. As I Tweeted yesterday, my interest is never “peaked” or “peeked.” It’s only piqued. (Although certainly my interest peaks when I see someone misuse pique.)
My friend Holly Burns recently blogged about the best mispronunciations she’s ever heard, and there certainly are some doozies.
What are your favorite/least favorite malaprops, Spoonerisms, homonym errors, and/or other tips of the slongue or tpyos? Any in particular that always drive you crazy?
A former co-worker of mine once let spell-check do all the work and sent an e-mail to the whole office saying, "I apologize for any incontinence." I still think that's hilarious.
the most annoying ones are the ones I make myself. Caught a whole run of 'isles' instead of 'aisles' recently. And a 'tenant' instead of a tenet.
I think somebody already mentioned 'alot'
FFS it's two words.
A recent (online) phenomenon I've come to hate is the use of adjectives or verbs as nouns, when they aren't.
eg. This is made of awesome.
I know this isn't what we're talking about as it's done deliberately, but that just makes it worse for me.
My husband once wanted to call out someone as a wimp with the P word. Being mindful of the company we were in, he called him a "female gentile." The comeback? Is that as opposed to a male jew?
I cringe when I see your/you're misused plus the there/their/they're.
My husband's relatives from Iowa (including his parents) all say acrosst instead of across. It drives me crazy!
Egad. My teeth are on edge as I read through these. I second all 209 comments before mine. The other day, a young woman who was giving a talk to a large group of people was trying to encourage people to act on their convictions. Several places in her speech she used her new word, "intentionality." Someone please help me. These are the same people – if I may stereotype – who use the word, "dialogue" as a verb and use the word "myself" in non-reflexive ways, as in "The party consisted of Jane, Judy, Frank, John and myself." Someone please make it stop.
Jamie Michele says
Late to the party, but a good friend of mine used to curse "Jesus Age Christ!"
When we finally heard him clearly and tried to correct him, he didn't believe he was wrong. He couldn't understand how "Jesus H. Christ" could be any better, and honestly, none of us could come up with Jesus's middle name to prove it. I think we decided on "Horatio," perhaps "Harold," but secretly, I figured it stood for "Holy."
Adam Pepper says
Man. You people are so anal reflective.
"Butt-naked" instead of "buck- naked". Gifts and "collectables", instead of "collectibles".
A wonderful article on "Talk of the Nation" on NPR:
"Words and the Web"
Torie underlines says
For the first 16 years of my life, believed the word "misled" was pronounced " "my-zulled."
And then I grew up to be a Junior Literary Agent…
A student of mine recently cautioned in ink "Don't put yourself on a peddle stool."
Think for a minute, you'll get there.
The mispronunciation of "supposedly" and "often" Even newscasters say "supposevly" and "off ten" Often has a silent T and there is no V in Supposedly. Drives me nuts and I bet 95% of the USA say these wrong.
Katie Alender says
Ooh, supposably drives me nuts.
My favorite, and I think the original word should be changed to the new spelling, is using "volumptuous" for "voluptuous."
Heather Bouwman says
I have twice had students tell me, in discussing Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter" (where the daughter takes an antidote…) that at the end of the story, she takes "the anecdote that kills her." I love that line.
I was well into adulthood before I knew that discrete and discreet were separate words. I always thought one was just a misspelling of the other.
And I keep calling homophones homonyms. Sigh.
Since I'm in the throws of first trimester morning (all-day) sickness woes: nauseous vs. nauseated. I giggle when I hear someone say they feel nauseous–I suppose if they started throwing up in front of me that'd be appropriate but otherwise, not quite. 🙂
Anne Pfeffer says
When I moved from my childhood home of Phoenix, Arizona to Chicago and spent my first winter there, I was frequently puzzled by what they called the "windshield factor." I imagined it as a temperature so low it would crack the windshield of your car. I had never experienced anything like that in Arizona. Eventually, I figured out that no one in Chicago had experienced it either.
A good way to remember gray from grey is this:
America uses grAy
England uses grEy
The thing I hate the most is actually something I do all the time: I cannot spell definitely/definately without looking it up. And every time I do it I just want to beat my head against the desk. It's like there's a little "Out to Lunch" sign in my brain where the correct spelling should be, and no matter how hard I try, I can never remember it.
Just hate principle inestigators who stand on principal.
I'd also rather not receive any complements.
Jenny Woolf says
I don't like reading "phase" for "faze" – and don't even talk to me about that sad, uneasy little hybrid word "phaze."
Dawn Anon says
oh my gosh… i can't stop laughing. I'm going to exit my office in a few moments with red, swollen, glassy eyes. Gee, thanks everyone!
this is such a fun topic.
Ideal/idea is the one that gets me. "idear" doesn't bother me. But when i hear, "Hey, I have an ideal"… i can barely keep myself from laughing.
I have to confess… when i'm with my friends, i often use "irregardless" just to see their faces squinch up and turn red. It's in the dictionary now…i argue and laugh. Yes. Sometimes I'm naughty on purpose.
Jaleh D says
Phrase: chomping at the bit.
I actually didn't know that it was "champing" at the bit, even though I did know where the bit goes. I always treated it as a figurative expression. Similar mouth motion even though the teeth aren't involved. I'll try to remember the right word though.
Count me with that author on the radio. I always thought coxswain was COX-SWANE, too. So is it COXEN or COX-WEN? The former one doesn't make any sense. But then many English words are weird, like colonel.
I frequently mis-type and mis-write homophones, but I do actually know the correct words. It comes from my fingers trying to keep up with my brain, putting down whatever sounds right in order to get the thoughts on paper. Then I backtrack and fix the misused words. But, I think that's the key. I do fix all the ones I find.
Jaleh D.: It's pronounced "coxen." There's also "boatswain," which is pronounced "bosun."
Rachel C says
I'm suprised I didn't see this one, because it completely drives me crazy: 'set' for 'sit' as in 'I set down in the chair'.
*cringe* It's like fingernails on a chalkboard.
AJ Richardson says
Then/Than. So many people I know don't know the proper way to use than, drives me crazy.
I remember having a raging fight with my dad when I was about twelve over whether it was 'nonplussed' or 'nonpulsed.' (still think the latter sounds better to this day…)
Sorry I'm a few days late on this one, but had to comment. Other than the great ones you guys have written, here are hte ones that drive me nuts:
1. when people pronounces supposedly supposebly. My skin crawls.
2. I have a student who constantly says "how much pages" rather than "How many" – I'm working on him.
3. My grandmother does this as many do – add an s to the end of a store that doesn't an s and add the word the in front as in "The KMarts, The Walmarts, and JC Pennies.
About definitely/definately, and not being able to remember it, how about saying to yourself, "I do remember it, because it's it not at."
Kate Allison says
Accept and Except. Lose and Loose.
Affect and Effect. And my absolute non-favorite: Of instead of Have. Audrey Hepburn did not sing "I could of danced all night." Actually, she didn't sing "I could have danced all night" either. It was dubbed.
I work in the legal field. To start a court application, you file a Notice of Motion and an Affidavit. I've had people call them Notion of Motion and After David.
Also, if you adjourn your application generally, that is, not to a certain date, you say you are adjourning it "sine die". I had one person say that their application was adjourned to a sunny day. (Serves us right for using jargon.)
Comprised Of. Think of comprise as "include" You don't include of!
Mark Pennington says
As a member of the literary illuminati, I feel compelled to full disclosure on my own 20 Embarrassing Mispronunciations. See if you may share some of my burdens and "out yourself" for proper penance.
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First Aid Kit Refils says
I had received the first edition of “Make” magazine as a gift and it was really awesome…
Andy R - UK says
Hi guys 'n' gals
Please God, NOT spoonfuls!
There is no such word as fuls!
Makes me soooooooooooo mad.
Have a nice day now.
Folks who use insure instead of ensure make me crazy.
In fact, the incorrect usage has been so prevalent that it's now accepted.
But, as far as I'm concerned, if you're not an insurance company (or contracting with one), you can't insure a damn thing.
< … stepping off of soapbox … >
Kim Kinsey says
Misspelling "premiere" makes me the most upset, anxious, and bothered!