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O

Obnoxious for Offensive. Obnoxious means exposed to evil. A soldier in battle is obnoxious to danger.

Occasion for Induce, or Cause. "His arrival occasioned a great tumult." As a verb, the word is needless and unpleasing.

Occasional Poems. These are not, as so many authors and compilers seem to think, poems written at irregular and indefinite intervals, but poems written for occasions, such as anniversaries, festivals, celebrations and the like.

Of Any for Of All. "The greatest poet of any that we have had."

Offhanded and Offhandedly. Offhand is both adjective and adverb; these are bastard forms.

On the Street. A street comprises the roadway and the buildings at each side. Say, in the street. He lives in Broadway.

One Another for Each Other. See Each Other.

Only. "He only had one." Say, He had only one, or, better, one only. The other sentence might be taken to mean that only he had one; that, indeed, is what it distinctly says. The correct placing of only in a sentence requires attention and skill.

Opine for Think. The word is not very respectably connected.

Opposite for Contrary. "I hold the opposite opinion." "The opposite practice."

Or for Nor. Probably our most nearly universal solecism. "I cannot see the sun or the moon." This means that I am unable to see one of them, though I may see the other. By using nor, I affirm the invisibility of both, which is what I wanted to do. If a man is not white or black he may nevertheless be a Negro or a Caucasian; but if he is not white nor black he belongs to some other race. See Neither.

Ordinarily for Usually. Clumsy.

Ovation. In ancient Rome an ovation was an inferior triumph accorded to victors in minor wars or unimportant battle. Its character and limitations, like those of the triumph, were strictly defined by law and custom. An enthusiastic demonstration in honor of an American civilian is nothing like that, and should not be called by its name.

Over for About, In, or Concerning. "Don't cry over spilt milk." "He rejoiced over his acquittal."

Over for More than. "A sum of over ten thousand dollars." "Upward of ten thousand dollars" is equally objectionable.

Over for On. "The policeman struck him over the head." If the blow was over the head it did not hit him.

Over with. "Let us have it over with." Omit with. A better expression is, Let us get done with it.

Outside of. Omit the preposition.


Ambrose Bierce

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