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Note: I haven’t written a ‘words’ entry in a while, much to the relief of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. When I blog I avoid derisory topics like politics, religion, and Swedish fish, but I do poke the grammar bear from time to time. Spo.

In every relationship, the drama personae have convictions and each actor knows they are right about a topic. No matter what the other tries to do to persuade the other they are wrong this falls flat. It is hoped these intransigent beliefs are limited to small things and they do not lead to fisticuffs, bloodshed or murders. Words sometimes border on the dangerous. This is especially true over their definition or usage. Someone and I are both curious about words and their usage. On Fridays we listen to “Grammar Girl”, sometimes approaching her like two quarrelsome plaintiffs going before Judge Judy, hoping she will declare I am right about a word and he is wrong. Often there is no clear or correct definition/use of a word, worse luck! It is a disappointment. There is a large dose of prescriptivism in me that likes proper clear definitions and use of words. I am not a Grammar-nazi*. Rather, I am a member of The Guardians of the Grammarly.

I thought I would write and share some definitions. These are not opinions, but truth. Do not dare to question this. Thems who say otherwise are itching for a fight.

Continually vs. continuously. Both mean something that is ongoing happening. Continual implies there are breaks in the event, while continuous the matter happens ‘nonstop’. The showerhead drips continually; the lightbulb is continuously on.

Podium vs. lectern. One stands on the podium; one talks at the lectern. Podium stems from the Latin word for foot; lectern derives from the Latin word to read.

Dose vs. dosage. A dose is the amount of medicine; the dosage is the frequency it is taken. I take Valium at a dose of 5mg; the dosage is three times a day as needed.

Martini vs. all the others passing as such. I expect, nay I demand!, when I order a martini the bartender should ask me ‘yes sir, what sort of gin?” and not ‘Is that with vodka?” or ‘do you want vermouth in that?’ Oh the horror. Martini (n.): a cocktail made from gin and vermouth. All the other types are “(noun modifier) martinis.”

As I am on the topic of cocktails……

Aperitif vs. cordial. Aperitifs derive from ‘to open”; they are something you serve before a meal, usually with an appetizer. Cordials are served after dinner, with dessert or as such. Cordials tend to be heavy, sweet, and prep you for sleep after consumption – like my men.

Holland vs. The Netherlands. Holland is a region within the country called The Netherlands. In fact there are two regions of Holland, North and South Holland. All Hollanders are from The Netherlands, but not all Netherlanders are Hollanders.** Similarly, thems that are British are not all English.

Back to words now……

E.g. vs. i.e. These are not interchangeable. I have to keep looking them up to remind myself which does watch, as they are different. E.g. means “for example” and i.e. means roughly “in other words.” The Oatmeal has a fun post on the topic.

Mass vs. weight. Mass is substance; weight it the force mass has in the presence of gravity. One can be weigh less on the moon with its lower gravity, or even be weightless in space, but one still has the same mass. I am working on my weight but really I am trying to diminish my mass – particularly the mass in my abdomen area.

Temerity vs. effrontery. Both have boldness to them, but with a difference. Temerity lacks knowledge of one’s actions, a boldness that is somewhat stupid. The ten year old had the temerity to challenge his teacher to a spelling contest. Effrontery has a conscious element of causing mischief or upset. The man had the effrontery to address his senator (whom he doesn’t like) as ‘hey, babe’.

Do you have any words you opine have distinct differences not to be messed with?

* this is a despicable term that should not be used. Period. End of discussion.

**My maternal grandmother’s family, the Timmermans, originate from Friesland. They took great pains to point out they were not Hollanders. It seems no matter where you come from, you don’t want to be mistaken for coming from somewhere else.

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October 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018