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On Behalf Of vs. In Behalf Of

The noun behalf (from Middle English, from by and half, meaning “side”) is an unusual word in a couple of respects. For one thing, it is used only in two prepositional phrases, anchoring either “in behalf of” or “on behalf of.” Many other nouns are employed in similar prepositional phrases in which a pair of prepositions frame a noun, as in “in addition...

Publicly vs. Publically

Is publically a word? Yes, if by “a word” you mean “a term that is found as an entry in dictionaries.” But is it a word a careful writer is apt to use? That’s another story, which will be told below. First, dictionaries are not arbiters of highly literate writing; they merely document usage. For example, irregardless has an entry in many dictionaries,...

Too Many Shades of Disheveled?

A word’s original meaning often expands over time. For example, take decimate, from Latin “to take a tenth.” The element dec is from decem, the Latin word for ten. One meaning was “to tithe,” but the sense that has given us the English word related to destruction is from a Roman military practice: To select by lot and put to death one in every ten...

10 Terms About the Coronavirus You Should Know

One by-product of the COVID-19 pandemic is the introduction of a vocabulary pertaining to the disease. Here are ten terms everyone should know to help them and others in their families and communities understand the disease and avoid contracting it. Asymptomatic: This term simply means “presenting no symptoms of disease,” but the connotation is that...

Furlough and Terms for Changes in Employment Status

This post explores definitions and connotations of various terms associated with leaving one’s place of employment. 1. Discharge This term is used mostly in military contexts, generally with a qualifier such as honorary that denotes a bureaucratic category, to refer to the end of enlistment for any of various reasons. (Discharge stems from the Late...

10 Writing Resources to Explore

Are you hoping to go further with your writing this year? Whether you want to launch your freelance writing career, write and publish a book, or start a successful blog, these ten resources could help. I’ve split them into three different categories: learn, write and market. If you’re fairly new to writing seriously, then you’ll probably want to...

Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass Review: Non-Fiction Writing

Would you like to learn to write great non-fiction – perhaps long-form articles or even full-length books? Then Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass might be for you. If you’ve read my previous MasterClass reviews about James Patterson’s class and Margaret Atwood’s class, you’ll already know how the MasterClass format works. If not, here’s a quick recap:...

7 Best Grammar Checker Apps

Do you struggle with spelling and grammar? Even if you’re a native English speaker, there might well be grammatical rules that confuse you – and you may find that you spend a lot of time poring over your draft text, trying to figure out what needs to be edited. This is where  grammar checker apps can really help. They go far beyond the simple spell...

Necromancy and Words for Divining the Future

In times of uncertainty, people wish for some magical means of foretelling the future. Considering that uncertainty is one of life’s certainties, it’s not surprising that human beings have come up with numerous ways to “look into the seeds of time/And say which grain will grow and which will not.” The English vocabulary is rich in words that name...

Augur vs. Auger

Although they sound the same and are often misspelled one for the other, the words augur and auger are not remotely related. augur In ancient Rome, the noun augur signified a religious official who interpreted the sounds and movements of birds to predict outcomes of matters of public concern. In time, the practice of augury also included the reading...

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