Posted by: episystechpubs | February 25, 2021

Editor’s Corner: But It Sounds Right

Good morning, my friends!

I occasionally write about misused words. And today, I’m going to do it again—only with a twist. The misused words I’m sharing today are from GrammarBook.com, and they are misused because they sound like they should mean something different from what they actually mean. Without really thinking about it, when we hear a word, we relate it to words that seem to have the same root or to words that sound similar. It’s an intuitive response that can save us time, but in these instances, it leads us to an incorrect conclusion.

Maybe these are not words you hear often these days, but it’s interesting to know that when people do use them, they often use them incorrectly because they sound similar to more common words.

I want to add a disclaimer here: some of the words are misused so often that some dictionaries have included the incorrect definition (Hiss! Boo!). Dictionaries will usually list the most accepted definition first, and they’ll list the least accepted definition last or near the end of the list of definitions.

Here’s the list, don’t choke on your coffee or tea when you learn how wrong we’ve been!

Word enervate
Mistaken Meaning to energize
Correct Meaning to weaken or sap
Correct Example Standing in the ticket line for six hours enervated us.
Word enormity
Mistaken Meaning enormousness, great size
Correct Meaning something outrageous or heinous
Correct Example The enormity of the bank scandal was even worse than they thought.
Word fulsome
Mistaken Meaning full, abundant, copious
Correct Meaning offensive to good taste, improperly or insincerely excessive
Correct Example She didn’t believe his fulsome apology for staying away all weekend.
Word noisome
Mistaken Meaning noisy
Correct Meaning noxious, offensive, disgusting (especially an odor)
Correct Example The smell from the trashcan was noisome.
Word proscribe
Mistaken Meaning to prescribe, recommend, direct
Correct Meaning to condemn, forbid
Correct Example The village proscribes alcohol sales on Sundays.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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