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M

Mad for Angry. An Americanism of lessening prevalence. It is probable that anger is a kind of madness (insanity), but that is not what the misusers of the word mad mean to affirm.

Maintain for Contend. "The senator maintained that the tariff was iniquitous." He maintained it only if he proved it.

Majority for Plurality. Concerning votes cast in an election, a majority is more than half the total; a plurality is the excess of one candidate's votes over another's. Commonly the votes compared are those for the successful candidate and those for his most nearly successful competitor.

Make for Earn. "He makes fifty dollars a month by manual labor."

Mansion for Dwelling, or House. Usually mere hyperbole, a lamentable fault of our national literature. Even our presidents, before Roosevelt, called their dwelling the Executive Mansion.

Masculine for Male. See Feminine.

Mend for Repair. "They mended the road." To mend is to repair, but to repair is not always to mend. A stocking is mended, a road repaired.

Meet for Meeting. This belongs to the language of sport, which persons of sense do not write--nor read.

Militate. "Negligence militates against success." If "militate" meant anything it would mean fight, but there is no such word.

Mind for Obey. This is a reasonless extension of one legitimate meaning of mind, namely, to heed, to give attention.

Minus for Lacking, or Without. "After the battle he was minus an ear." It is better in serious composition to avoid such alien words as have vernacular equivalents.

Mistaken for Mistake. "You are mistaken." For whom? Say, You mistake.

Monarch for King, Emperor, or Sovereign. Not only hyperbolical, but inaccurate. There is not a monarch in Christendom.

Moneyed for Wealthy. "The moneyed men of New York." One might as sensibly say, "The cattled men of Texas," or, "The lobstered men of the fish market."

Most for Almost. "The apples are most all gone." "The returning travelers were most home."

Moved for Removed. "The family has moved to another house." "The Joneses were moving."

Mutual. By this word we express a reciprocal relation. It implies exchange, a giving and taking, not a mere possessing in common. There can be a mutual affection, or a mutual hatred, but not a mutual friend, nor a mutual horse.


Ambrose Bierce

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