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S

Say for Voice. "He had no say in determining the matter." Vulgar.

Scholar for Student, or Pupil. A scholar is a person who is learned, not a person who is learning.

Score for Win, Obtain, etc. "He scored an advantage over his opponent." To score is not to win a point, but to record it.

Second-handed for Second-hand. There is no such word.

Secure for Procure. "He secured a position as book-keeper." "The dwarf secured a stick and guarded the jewels that he had found." Then it was the jewels that were secured.

Seldom ever. A most absurd locution.

Self-confessed. "A self-confessed assassin." Self is superfluous: one's sins cannot be confessed by another.

Sensation for Emotion. "The play caused a great sensation." "A sensational newspaper." A sensation is a physical feeling; an emotion, a mental. Doubtless the one usually accompanies the other, but the good writer will name the one that he has in mind, not the other. There are few errors more common than the one here noted.

Sense for Smell. "She sensed the fragrance of roses." Society English.

Set for Sit. "A setting hen."

Settee for Settle. This word belongs to the peasantry of speech.

Settle for Pay. "Settle the bill." "I shall take it now and settle for it later."

Shades for Shade. "Shades of Noah! how it rained!" "O shades of Caesar!" A shade is a departed soul, as conceived by the ancients; one to each mortal part is the proper allowance.

Show for Chance, or Opportunity. "He didn't stand a show." Say, He had no chance.

Sick for Ill. Good usage now limits this word to cases of nausea, but it is still legitimate in sickly, sickness, love-sick, and the like.

Side for Agree, or Stand. "I side with the Democrats." "He always sided with what he thought right."

Sideburns for Burnsides. A form of whiskers named from a noted general of the civil war, Ambrose E. Burnside. It seems to be thought that the word side has something to do with it, and that as an adjective it should come first, according to our idiom.

Side-hill for Hillside. A reasonless transposition for which it is impossible to assign a cause, unless it is abbreviated from side o' the hill.

Sideways for Sidewise. See Endways.

Since for Ago. "He came here not long since and died."

Smart for Bright, or Able. An Americanism that is dying out. But "smart" has recently come into use for fashionable, which is almost as bad.

Snap for Period (of time) or Spell. "A cold snap." This is a word of incomprehensible origin in that sense; we can know only that its parents were not respectable. "Spell" is itself not very well-born.

So--as. See As--as.

So for True. "If you see it in the Daily Livercomplaint it is so." "Is that so?" Colloquial and worse.

Solemnize. This word rightly means to make solemn, not to perform, or celebrate, ceremoniously something already solemn, as a marriage, or a mass. We have no exact synonym, but this explains, rather than justifies, its use.

Some for Somewhat. "He was hurt some."

Soon for Willingly. "I would as soon go as stay." "That soldier would sooner eat than fight." Say, rather eat.

Space for Period. "A long space of time." Space is so different a thing from time that the two do not go well together.

Spend for Pass. "We shall spend the summer in Europe." Spend denotes a voluntary relinquishment, but time goes from us against our will.

Square for Block. "He lives three squares away." A city block is seldom square.

Squirt for Spurt. Absurd.

Stand and Stand for for Endure. "The patient stands pain well." "He would not stand for misrepresentation."

Standpoint for Point of View, or Viewpoint.

State for Say. "He stated that he came from Chicago." "It is stated that the president is angry." We state a proposition, or a principle, but say that we are well. And we say our prayers--some of us.

Still Continue. "The rain still continues." Omit still; it is contained in the other word.

Stock. "I take no stock in it." Disagreeably commercial. Say, I have no faith in it. Many such metaphorical expressions were unobjectionable, even pleasing, in the mouth of him who first used them, but by constant repetition by others have become mere slang, with all the offensiveness of plagiarism. The prime objectionableness of slang is its hideous lack of originality. Until mouth-worn it is not slang.

Stop for Stay. "Prayer will not stop the ravages of cholera." Stop is frequently misused for stay in another sense of the latter word: "He is stopping at the hotel." Stopping is not a continuing act; one cannot be stopping who has already stopped.

Stunt. A word recently introduced and now overworked, meaning a task, or performance in one's trade, or calling,--doubtless a variant of stint, without that word's suggestion of allotment and limitation. It is still in the reptilian stage of evolution.

Subsequent for Later, or Succeeding. Legitimate enough, but ugly and needless. "He was subsequently hanged." Say, afterward.

Substantiate for Prove. Why?

Success. "The project was a success." Say, was successful. Success should not have the indefinite article.

Such Another for Another Such. There is illustrious authority for this--in poetry. Poets are a lawless folk, and may do as they please so long as they do please.

Such for So. "He had such weak legs that he could not stand." The absurdity of this is made obvious by changing the form of the statement: "His legs were such weak that he could not stand." If the word is an adverb in the one sentence it is in the other. "He is such a great bore that none can endure him." Say, so great a bore.

Suicide. This is never a verb. "He suicided." Say, He killed himself, or He took his own life. See Commit Suicide.

Supererogation. To supererogate is to overpay, or to do more than duty requires. But the excess must be in the line of duty; merely needless and irrelevant action is not supererogation. The word is not a natural one, at best.

Sure for Surely. "They will come, sure." Slang.

Survive for Live, or Persist. Survival is an outliving, or outlasting of something else. "The custom survives" is wrong, but a custom may survive its utility. Survive is a transitive verb.

Sustain for Incur. "He sustained an injury." "He sustained a broken neck." That means that although his neck was broken he did not yield to the mischance.


Ambrose Bierce

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