Tag Archives: usage

Tour de force? Coup de grace? Maybe coup de force or tour de grace?

A weird error crossed my desk the other day and it was interesting enough that I’m devoting this post to it. You’ve probably encountered both of these phrases: coup de grace and tour de force. A coup de grace (the … Continue reading

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What does “anodyne” mean? It’s really not very exciting.

Bland. Dull. Boring. Insipid. Those are some of the synonyms listed in one dictionary for “anodyne.” Are you familiar with that word: anodyne? It’s certainly been getting a lot more use lately. Why is that? The word has been around … Continue reading

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Thou Shalt Not Use “Shall”

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that a large chunk of my work in recent years has been for law firms. When you work in that domain you have a lot of exposure to “legalese,” both in the common derogatory … Continue reading

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What makes someone an authority on the English language?

A vocabulary slip on my part in a recent post led to an email conversation with long-time reader Steve G., which eventually meandered over to this question. I’ve done a fair amount of thinking on the idea, and can offer … Continue reading

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Blacklist vs Blackball

“I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” – Groucho Marx Blacklist or blackball? Which term is correct in which context and why? I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of … Continue reading

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