Speaking of locutions that make me cringe (we were, weren’t we?), the suffix “—wise” is near the top of my list. Limit it to a very few situations:
• Clockwise, counter clockwise
Spare others from uses such as “healthwise,” “timewise,” “costumewise,” “stylewise.”
Instead of saying or writing, “Healthwise, I’ve had some problems with my elbow recently,” just drop that silly introductory word. It adds nothing. Nor does “costumewise”: “Costumewise, I’m going as Darth Vader as a schoolboy.” Just describe the getup you are planning on wearing to that Star Wars-themed Halloween party.
And so ends my word(s) to the wise.
When people see an abbreviation, many refer to it as an acronym, thinking they mean the same thing. They don’t.
You all know what an abbreviation is. An acronym is also an abbreviation—but one that is pronounced as a word:
Snafu ( it lost the caps when it became a common word)
MOMA in New York and LACMA in Los Angeles
You’d never say “Oosuh” or “Yoosuh,” so USA is not an acronym, just an abbreviation.
All acronyms are abbreviations, but not all abbreviations are acronyms.
(If you’re not sure what snafu and fubar stand for, look them up in your online dictionary; there you will discover the slightly off-color meanings.)
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Whenever words can be spelled more than one way, the preferred spelling is always given first in the dictionary. The same goes for pronunciations.
A friend wrote today about seeing the word “publically.” I have seen it written only as “publicly,” but she said a dictionary gave the “—ally” variant as the second spelling. I consulted my online dictionary, which specifically stated the “—ally” version is not acceptable; the American Heritage Dictionary (my favorite) does not even mention that spelling. Stick with “publicly.”
You realize that countries that are or were part of the British Empire use the”—our” spelling, while we in America prefer “color” and “humor” without the “u.” I can’t say it’s wrong to include it, but if you are a native-born American, you might be considered pretentious if you use the British spelling. The same goes for “judgement”; we leave out that middle “e.”