Posted by: Jack Henry | March 16, 2021

Editor’s Corner: More Confusables

Good morning, folks!

Sometimes I read something that just tickles the twisted sister in me. The other day, it was a perfectly innocent article from The Grammarist, once again about “confusables,” which they define as “a catch-all term for words that are often misused or confused.” The trio of terms they selected was carry on, carry-on, and carrion. The following are the definitions from the website, with a little bit of commentary from yours truly.

Carry on means to continue, to keep going in a certain direction, or to behave in an over-emotional fashion. Carry on is a verbal phrase that has been in use for many hundreds of years. Related phrases are carries on, carried on, carrying on. [KC – And the most awesome use of the phrase is in the 1976 Kansas song,
Carry On My Wayward Son. “Lay your weary head to rest, and don’t you cry no more.”]

A carry-on is a piece of luggage that one takes into the passenger cabin when traveling by air. Many travelers find it more convenient to forego baggage claim to retrieve their checked baggage; however, carry-ons must pass through airport security at a checkpoint manned staffed by TSA…The plural form of carry-on is carry-ons; note the hyphen. [KC – Okay, I love this website, but they wrote about 100 words describing dimensions and what you can take onto the plane, where you can put it, etc. If you plan on flying, check your airline’s website for the details. And wear a mask.]

And this next definition, well, it’s what sold me on this article.

Carrion is a decaying, rotting, dead animal carcass or the flesh of a decaying, rotting, dead animal carcass. Raptors and birds of prey such as the hawk, eagle, falcon, and owl may eat carrion; however, scavenger birds such as turkey vultures, black vultures, and buzzards are much more likely to eat carrion of small mammals, birds, or reptiles. The word carrion is derived from the Old French word, charogne, which means corpse.

When I first read the article, I imagined using the word carrion instead of carry-on in a story, and it made me laugh. I also smile when I hear the word carrion, because of the 1962 musical, The Music Man. While singing a song to the woman he has a crush on, the Music Man rhymes his beloved librarian’s name—Marion—with the less-than-lovely word carrion. This is a classic, with Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, and Ron (Ronny) Howard. I highly recommend it for that song alone!

Enjoy your day!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: