Posted by: episystechpubs | December 7, 2017

Editor’s Corner: The Fourth Day of English (2017)

On the fourth day of English

My love gave me something good:

Four words that might not mean

What you think they should.

From Your Dictionary:

Bemused

If you think this word means the same thing as a word it rhymes with, you’re absolutely right. Unfortunately, most people choose the wrong rhyme. "Bemused" doesn’t mean "amused," though it’s often used that way by mistake. It actually means "confused." If you have a bemused expression on your face right now, it’s because this new information is blowing your mind—not because you think it’s hilarious.

Electrocute

Ever accidentally stick your finger in an electrical outlet and get electrocuted? If that were true, you’d be dead and buried. "Electrocute" means to kill someone with an electric shock (think "execute" to help you remember). If you get a nasty shock from a malfunctioning appliance, you may be a little shocked, but you haven’t been electrocuted.

Factoid

"Factoid" is a relatively new word in English. It was coined by author Norman Mailer in 1973, and he meant it to refer to tidbits of information that everyone thinks are true, but actually aren’t. According to this original use, "factoids" aren’t facts at all, but rather fake news that people believe just because they’ve seen it written somewhere—tabloids in the ’70s, Twitter today. The irony is that today people use factoid to mean a fun trivia fact—pretty much the opposite of what Mailer intended.

Lied

If you think "lied" has two meanings, you’re in for a surprise. This is the past tense of only one word, not two, so you could be using it correctly only half the time. If you lied to your mother yesterday, you’re not a good person, but you used the word correctly. "Lied" means to have told an untruth in the past. It is not the past tense of "to lie down"—that would be "lay." Lots of people get these conjugations confused, but you should say "I lay down after work yesterday because I was so tired."

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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