While I’m not quite as bad as my Grammar-Nazi sister, there are some frustrations that pop up once in a while. Plus, I seem to be getting reminders in the last few months that using the correct terms — especially with your mental and physical health care personnel — is extremely important.
My frustrations with other people’s misuse of idioms include the following cringe-worthy items:
- “For intensive purposes” — No, that would be “for all INTENTS AND purposes”
- “Extract revenge” — “EXACT revenge”
- “Part and partial” — “part and PARCEL”
- “By in large” — “by AND large”
- “Case and point” — “case IN point”
- “Orientate” — “ORIENT” (the noun form — orientation — does NOT get translated into orientate! The correct verb form is ORIENT). The same issue seems to happen with the noun form of conversation — No, the verb form is NOT conversating. It is CONVERSING
But, that’s a bunny trail. The real issue is that too often we seem to be forgetting that just because a descriptive word or phrase makes sense to us, it rarely means the exact thing to someone else. Remember my discussion on connotation versus denotation? (links to definitions, if you didn’t read the previous post)
I had a recent interaction with someone where I was repeatedly required to ask how they were defining their terms. Sadly, their idea of “defining their terms” was to repeat the word or phrase with the inclusion of a generalized adjective (such as “very” or “extremely”). This is NOT defining your terms. In fact, it isn’t even communicating.