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I

Idea for Thought, Purpose, Expectation, etc. "I had no idea that it was so cold." "When he went abroad it was with no idea of remaining."

Identified with. "He is closely identified with the temperance movement." Say, connected.

Ilk for Kind. "Men of that ilk." This Scotch word has a narrowly limited and specific meaning. It relates to an ancestral estate having the same name as the person spoken of. Macdonald of that ilk means, Macdonald of Macdonald. The phrase quoted above is without meaning.

Illy for Ill. There is no such word as illy, for ill itself is an adverb.

Imaginary Line. The adjective is needless. Geometrically, every line is imaginary; its graphic representation is a mark. True the text-books say, draw a line, but in a mathematical sense the line already exists; the drawing only makes its course visible.

In for Into. "He was put in jail." "He went in the house." A man may be in jail, or be in a house, but when the act of entrance--the movement of something from the outside to the inside of another thing--is related the correct word is into if the latter thing is named.

Inaugurate for Begin, Establish, etc. Inauguration implies some degree of formality and ceremony.

Incumbent for Obligatory. "It was incumbent upon me to relieve him." Infelicitous and work-worn. Say, It was my duty, or, if enamored of that particular metaphor, It lay upon me.

Individual. As a noun, this word means something that cannot be considered as divided, a unit. But it is incorrect to call a man, woman or child an individual, except with reference to mankind, to society or to a class of persons. It will not do to say, "An individual stood in the street," when no mention nor allusion has been made, nor is going to be made, to some aggregate of individuals considered as a whole.

Indorse. See Endorse.

Insane Asylum. Obviously an asylum cannot be unsound in mind. Say, asylum for the insane.

In Spite of. In most instances it is better to say despite.

Inside of. Omit the preposition.

Insignificant for Trivial, or Small. Insignificant means not signifying anything, and should be used only in contrast, expressed or implied, with something that is important for what it implies. The bear's tail may be insignificant to a naturalist tracing the animal's descent from an earlier species, but to the rest of us, not concerned with the matter, it is merely small.

Insoluble for Unsolvable. Use the former word for material substances, the latter for problems.

Inst., Prox., Ult. These abbreviations of instante mense (in the present month), proximo mense (in the next month) and ultimo mense (in the last month), are serviceable enough in commercial correspondence, but, like A.M., P.M. and many other contractions of Latin words, could profitably be spared from literature.

Integrity for Honesty. The word means entireness, wholeness. It may be rightly used to affirm possession of all the virtues, that is, unity of moral character.

Involve for Entail. "Proof of the charges will involve his dismissal." Not at all; it will entail it. To involve is, literally, to infold, not to bring about, nor cause to ensue. An unofficial investigation, for example, may involve character and reputation, but the ultimate consequence is entailed. A question, in the parliamentary sense, may involve a principle; its settlement one way or another may entail expense, or injury to interests. An act may involve one's honor and entail disgrace.

It for So. "Going into the lion's cage is dangerous; you should not do it." Do so is the better expression, as a rule, for the word it is a pronoun, meaning a thing, or object, and therefore incapable of being done. Colloquially we may say do it, or do this, or do that, but in serious written discourse greater precision is desirable, and is better obtained, in most cases, by use of the adverb.

Item for Brief Article. Commonly used of a narrative in a newspaper. Item connotes an aggregate of which it is a unit--one thing of many. Hence it suggests more than we may wish to direct attention to.


Ambrose Bierce

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