Say What?

A while back I blogged about common phrases that drive me crazy. Here’s a couple more:

  • “That’s a moot point.” Most of the time, the speaker means that the point has been decided, or in their minds, not open to debate. In fact, “moot” means just the opposite; if a point is moot, it means that it is open to discussion or debatable.
  • “I literally hit the ceiling.” Really? Let me see the wound. Unless there’s a contusion or bleeding, “virtually” is more accurate. “Literally” means exactly.

Now, this may seem as nit-picking, but when someone who is trying to appear as an expert makes these kinds of gaffes, it causes me to question their supposed expertise.

And as long as I’m banging the spoon on the high chair, a note to people who want to sprinkle Latin phrases into their writing or speaking: unless you can get it right, don’t do it. For example, don’t write “e.g.” when you mean “i.e.” and vice versa. The abbreviation e.g. is Latin for “exempli gratia” meaning “for example”. The abbreviation i.e., on the other hand, stands for the Latin “id est” meaning “that is to say.”

And it’s pronounced “ET cetera”, not “ECK cetera.”

Let’s try to get our Latin right, shall we? Don’t we owe it to all those dead Romans?


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