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Words You Thought You Knew: 1001 Commonly Misused and Misunderstood Words and Phrases

Overview

There is nothing more embarrassing than saying the wrong word at the wrong time. Not only can the occasional slipup potentially make you feel dumb, it can create an unfavorable impression among your supervisors, colleagues, peers, potential employers, clients, teachers-and even your friends and family.

Words You Thought You Knew can make a wordsmith out of virtually anyone. Featuring succinct definitions and clear sentence examples of 1,001 common but troublesome words and ...

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Overview

There is nothing more embarrassing than saying the wrong word at the wrong time. Not only can the occasional slipup potentially make you feel dumb, it can create an unfavorable impression among your supervisors, colleagues, peers, potential employers, clients, teachers-and even your friends and family.

Words You Thought You Knew can make a wordsmith out of virtually anyone. Featuring succinct definitions and clear sentence examples of 1,001 common but troublesome words and phrases, this invaluable and practical guide also provides extensive cross-referencing and even a fun quiz to help you determine your mastery of words you thought you knew.

As a result of your perspicacity in choosing this unique guide, you have myriad words at your disposal to prevent any social gaffes in your auspicious future!

About the Author
Jenna Glatzer, the editor-in-chief of Absolute Write and Absolute Markets, is the author of Outwitting Writer's Block and Conquering Panic and Anxiety Disorders. Her writing has also appeared in several anthologies, including A Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup for the Romantic's Soul.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Jenna Glatzer, editor-in-chief of Absolute Write, polled the roughly 62,000 writers who subscribe to her service to find the most irksome usage errors. This little manual is the result. There are the traditional favorites (its/it's, there/their/they're, accept/except, bring/take, lie/lay) and some new bloopers. Words that cause confusion include gormless, ghostwriter, brutalize, billabong, immolate, papoose, Wicca, and bull session. Glatzer's style is breezy ("In case you missed the movie Dead Poets Society, carpe diem is Latin for seize the day. Good advice, don't you think?"). And yes, there will be a quiz later. In fact, the volume ends with a 50-question test. You'd think 62,000 writers owned dictionaries or usage manuals, but this is an enjoyable read that obviously serves an expressed need. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Adams Media (57 Littlefield Street, Avon, MA 03422), 310p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Janet Julian
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580629416
  • Publisher: Adams Media Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Edition description: Subsequent
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 6.04 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Read an Excerpt

firstly

Now here's a stupid word if ever there was one. There may be no other word that screams, "I'm trying to sound more intelligent by adding an extra syllable" louder than firstly. My first piece of advice is: don't use this word. My second piece of advice is: if you simply must, then you have to follow it up with secondly, thirdly, etc. You can't say "firstly" and then follow it with "second" and "third." The reverse is also true: you can't say "first" and follow it with "secondly."
Firstly, spin around three times. Secondly, try to pin the tail on the donkey.

flammable/inflammable

I know this one is weird, but these words are synonyms. They both mean that something is able to catch on fire. Considering that, you might as well go with the shorter word. I found out that my pants were flammable when I flicked my lighter in my pocket and soon found myself stopping, dropping, and rolling.

flaunt/flout

When you flaunt something, you make a grand display of it or show it off. You don't flaunt authority. You flout it. Well, if you're an authority-flouting kind of person, that is. Flout means to scorn or refuse to comply with.
He flaunted his good looks by having pictures of himself all over his house.
She flouted her curfew by staying out all night.

flier/flyer

Every time I wanted to print up a paper to hand out, I wasn't sure if I was printing up a flier or a flyer. Turns out that it doesn't matter. Either spelling is acceptable for both meanings (those having to do with flying and papers for circulation). Preferably, handouts are spelled flyers and someone who flies is a flier. The nightclub worker passed out flyers to promote their annual Elvis karaoke contest.
Because I'm addicted to getting "frequent flier miles," I paid my college tuition by credit card.

flotsam and jetsam

Flotsam and jetsam, rarely seen apart, are used to mean assorted junk. But just in case you're wondering what each word means, flotsam is the junk that floats out to sea after a shipwreck, and jetsam is the stuff that's been thrown overboard and washes ashore or sinks.
Our attic houses all sorts of flotsam and jetsam that we can't bring ourselves to throw out.

flummox

Someone flummoxes you when they bewilder you. Flummoxed means confused.
I didn't mean to flummox you with my directions. I'm sorry you ended up in the wrong state.

folderol

"Picture, if you will, a medieval minstrel singing a ballad," say Mike and Melanie Crowley, founders of Take Our Word For It, a word origin webzine (www.takeourword.com). "He is making it up as he goes along but every now and then his inspiration fails him. Rather than commit the sin of silence, he sings fal-al-deral, folderol, or some similar gobbledygook. It was the medieval equivalent of la-la-la. From being a nonsense word it came to mean nonsense words."
He's so medicated that we can't understand a word he's saying; it's all folderol.

forbear/forebear

As a verb, forbear means to hold back from or resist. Your forebears are your ancestors, but just to be confusing, the alternate spelling is forebears, which means you can use either spelling to mean ancestor, but only forbear as a verb.
Forbear taunting the hamster; he's easily excitable.
My forebears are from Italy, where olive oil is almost a beverage.

forego/forgo

To forego is to go before, usually heard in its adjective form, foregone. Western Carolina University reported that one of its students would "forego his senior basketball year," which means that he would go before his senior basketball year, which makes very little sense. I don't know what it is about college sports that invites this error, but the Official College Sports Network also reported that a Michigan State goaltender would "forego his senior season." The verb they both meant to use was forgo: to do without.
Putting on your socks foregoes putting on your shoes.
I would have to have to forgo my donut tonight to stick to my New Year's resolution; thank goodness I had my fingers crossed on New Year's Eve.

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Table of Contents

Words
Phrases
Quiz
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2004

    Fun to Read & Chock-Full of Great Information

    Jenna Glatzer¿s new title is one of those reference books that you never realized how much you needed until you start reading it. It¿s chock-full of fascinating words and information, much of which is spiced up by Glatzer¿s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. After pithy but easy-to-comprehend descriptions of words and phrases, she includes information about usage and spelling, along with a brief example sentence. The book is an invaluable addition to any person¿s library and is especially useful for writers and those who love words. For all those who `pour¿ over documents, fall `prostrate¿ in the face of a threat, insist that Tom Dooley was `hung,¿ or can¿t decide if you `empathize¿ or `sympathize,¿ this book is for you! ~Lori L. Lake, author of Stepping Out, Different Dress, Gun Shy, Under The Gun, and Ricochet In Time, and reviewer for Midwest Book Review, The Independent Gay Writer, The Gay Read, and Just About Write.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2004

    Firstly forgo the folderol

    This is a great book for people who write, and for people think they can write. It is also excellent for people who are confused by English as a language (first, second, or otherwise). Nice concise example sentences, and a light-hearted writing style make this a great reference and a fun read.

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