Posted by: episystechpubs | March 20, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Misused Phrases, Part II

Today’s list is the continuation of 20 Common Phrases Even the Smartest People Misuse.

· Emigrated To

With this one there is no debate. The verb “emigrate” is always used with the preposition “from,” whereas immigrate is always used with the preposition “to.” To emigrate is to come from somewhere, and to immigrate is to go to somewhere. “Jimmy emigrated from Ireland to the United States” means the same thing as “Jimmy immigrated to the United States from Ireland.” It’s just a matter of what you’re emphasizing—the coming or the going.

· Slight of Hand

“Sleight of hand” is a common phrase in the world of magic and illusion, because “sleight” means dexterity or cunning, usually to deceive. On the other hand, as a noun, a “slight” is an insult.

· Honed In

First, it’s important to note that this particular expression is hotly debated. Many references now consider “hone in” a proper alternate version of “home in.” That said, it is still generally accepted that “home in” is the more correct phrase. To home in on something means to move toward a goal, such as “The missile homed in on its target.” To “hone” means to sharpen. You would say, “I honed my résumé writing skills.” But you would likely not say, “The missile honed in on its target.” When followed by the preposition “in,” the word “hone” just doesn’t make sense.

· Baited Breath

The term “bated” is an adjective meaning suspense. It originated from the verb “abate,” meaning to stop or lessen. Therefore, “to wait with bated breath” essentially means to hold your breath with anticipation. The verb “bait,” on the other hand, means to taunt, often to taunt a predator with its prey. A fisherman baits his line in hopes of a big catch. Considering the meaning of the two words, it’s clear which is correct, but the word “bated” is mostly obsolete today, leading to ever-increasing mistakes in this expression.

· Piece of Mind

This should be “peace” of mind, meaning calmness and tranquility. The expression “piece of mind” actually would suggest doling out sections of brain.

· Wet Your Appetite

This expression is more often used incorrectly than correctly—56% of the time it appears online, it’s wrong. The correct idiom is “whet your appetite.” “Whet” means to sharpen or stimulate, so to “whet your appetite” means to awaken your desire for something.

· For All Intensive Purposes

The correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes.” It originates from English law dating back to the 1500s, which used the phrase “to all intents, constructions, and purposes” to mean “officially” or “effectively.”

From: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/sneak_peek

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory


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