Posted by: Jack Henry | November 17, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Fossil Words, Part 3

In my last two posts (here and here), I discussed fossil words (words that are not widely used outside of one or two well-known phrases) and gave some examples.

Here are 13 more fossil words, along with the phrases in which you can still find them. The definitions are from Merriam-Webster.

· mettle: vigor and strength of spirit or temperament ("test one’s mettle")

· offing: the near or foreseeable future ("in the offing")

· petard: a case containing an explosive to break down a door or gate or breach a wall ("hoist by one’s petard")

· riddance: deliverance, relief ("good riddance")

· shebang: everything involved in what is under consideration ("the whole shebang")

· shrift: a remission of sins pronounced by a priest in the sacrament of reconciliation ("short shrift")

· sleight: dexterity, skill ("sleight of hand")

· turpitude: inherent baseness; depravity ("moral turpitude")

· ulterior: going beyond what is openly said or shown and especially what is proper ("ulterior motive")

· vim: robust energy and enthusiasm ("vim and vigor")

· wedlock: the state of being married; marriage, matrimony ("out of wedlock")

· wreak: bring about, cause ("wreak havoc")

· yore: time past and especially long past ("days of yore")

Bonus Spelling Tips

This list contains two commonly misspelled phrases: "wreak havoc" (not "wreck havoc") and "sleight of hand" (not "slight of hand").

The Mnemonic Dictionary has several tips for remembering how to spell wreak. This is my favorite:

Tip: Wreak sounds like (and is spelled like) creak. The ship creaked when the pirates wreaked havoc on it.

I couldn’t find a good mnemonic for sleight, so I conjured one up. When magicians perform sleight of hand, they commonly hide things in their sleeves.

Tip: When you’re talking about magic, the word sleight has a silent e hidden in its sleeve.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 |

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