‘Allowed’ and ‘aloud’

Allowed and aloud are homophones. It’s a common mistake to use these two in place of each other. (Although I suspect some incorrect uses are because of predictive text functions.) Aloud can be substituted for ‘out loud’; allowed is the past tense of the verb allow.

musicAloud

  • audibly

Allow

  • to permit
  • to set aside
  • to acknowledge or admit

My tip: aloud is audible; allowed is permitted.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

Jirble

spilt-milkHere’s a word for the next time you spill your hot or cold beverage of choice: jirble.

Jirble means ‘to spill by shaking or unsteady movement of the container’ or ‘to pour out unsteadily’ – usually due to carelessness. It is a Scottish word that is supposed to be imitative of the sound that is often made when liquids are jirbled.

“I jirbled the milk while I was speaking.”

The first use that the OED lists is from 1760 and the latest example given is from 1827. It would be a real shame if jirble didn’t make it into a few pieces of contemporary writing…


Sources:

  • Dictionary of the Scots Language Online
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online
  • Pixabay (image)

‘Marten’ and ‘martin’

martenYou might be most familiar with these homophones as a brand of footwear (Dr. Martens) and a common male name (Martin). But if you find yourself writing or reading about wildlife, it is important to know the difference in that context.

Marten

  • a small, weasel-like, omnivorous mammal

Martin

  • a songbird of the swallow family

My tip: a marten looks like a weasel; a martin is a bird.


Sources:

 

‘Peal’ and ‘peel’

It’s nearly Christmas! To celebrate, I offer you some homophones that I have tenuously linked to the season: peal and peel.

bellsPeal

  • a long loud echoing sound (such as that made by bells)
  • to sound with a peal or peals
  • a set of bells
  • a series of changes rung on bells

Peel

  • to remove the skin, rind or outer covering of
  • to come off in flakes
  • to lose parts of an outer layer or covering, usually in strips or small pieces
  • the skin or rind of a fruit (such as that found in mincemeat)

I don’t have a simple mnemonic for remembering this one; if you have any suggestions, please let me know below. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

‘Ibidem’ and ‘idem’

Ibidem and idem are both Latin words, are both usually printed in italic and are both often found in reading lists, references and bibliographies. They don’t mean the same thing and they should be used in the correct context. Their respective abbreviations are similar and are therefore easy to get muddled up.

two-booksIbidem

Ibidem means ‘in the same place’ but is normally used to mean ‘in the same source’ (such as a book or chapter). It is employed to avoid repeating a reference and it is often abbreviated to ibid. or ib.

Idem

Idem means ‘the same’ but is normally used to mean ‘the same person’. It is used to avoid repeating an author’s name when works by that author are cited in succession and it is sometimes abbreviated to id.

Unless you are an academic or a keen reader of non-fiction, you might not come across ibidem and idem very often. My tip if you do have to use them is to try to associate ibidem with sources that are often books and idem with a person’s identity.


Sources:

  • Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 4th edition
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

Rebarbative

macaqueRebarbative is a borrowing from French. I’ve decided to add it to my vocabulary because one can never have too many synonyms for ‘objectionable’, ‘repellent’ or ‘fearsome’.

The French word rébarbatif means ‘repellent’ or ‘disagreeable’, and it is derived from the Middle French word rebarber. Rebarber means ‘to oppose’ and itself derives from the Old French words re (meaning ‘back’ or ‘again’) and barbe (meaning ‘beard’). It is therefore thought to have the literal meaning of ‘to stand beard to beard against’.

The OED’s first listed usage is from 1892 but I like this example:

“Still, everyone appeared to be extremely nice, except that that Dr. Greenfield man was a trifle rebarbative. (This was a word which Toby had recently learnt at school and could not now conceive of doing without.)”

– Iris Murdoch, The Bell, 1958


Sources:

 

 

‘Mnemonic’ and ‘pneumonic’

This post is brought to you thanks to Johanna Levene:

“Next post? Mnemonic vs. pneumonic. Suggested due to my spellcheck’s struggle to spell mnemonic.”

Mnemonic and pneumonic are, as well as being nightmares to spell, frequently used in place of each other. It is also important to note that while most people are familiar with a mnemonic device, it is possible to refer to a pneumonic device (medical equipment used in relation to the lungs).

letterswoodenMnemonic

  • a memory aid or way of remembering something (often an idea association or a pattern of letters)

Pneumonic

  • of or relating to the lungs
  • related to or affected by pneumonia

My tip: a mnemonic helps the memory; pneumonic is about lungs.


Sources:

‘Moose’ and ‘mousse’

The misuse of moose and mousse is another one of those mix-ups that can be slightly amusing. If I read something like “I ordered a moose for dessert” or  “we photographed a mousse in the wild” I can’t help but play those little scenarios out in my mind (but then I am easily amused).

mooseMoose

  • a large deer with big, flattened antlers (also referred to as an elk)

Mousse

  • a smooth, light dish usually made with cream and egg whites
  • the mass of tiny bubbles on top of a sparkling wine
  • a foamy substance used to style hair or as a cosmetic or skin care product; to style using mousse
  • the emulsion of oil and water after an oil spill

My tip: a mousse is often a dessert.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online

Scrumdiddlyumptious

This week the world marked 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl. He has been one of my favourite authors since I was very young, and I would highly recommend his autobiographies if you haven’t yet read them.

cookiesThis week’s interesting word is one that is famously associated with Dahl. And it has relevance for me because it is my birthday soon and my sister always treats me to an afternoon tea that can only be described as scrumdiddlyumptious.

Scrumdiddlyumptious means ‘delicious’ or ‘extremely tasty’. It can also be used to describe an attractive person.

I had always assumed that scrumdiddlyumptious was coined by Dahl, but it actually originated as US slang in the 1940s. It is a humorous alteration of scrumptious (of which there were many but not all made it into widespread usage). The OED has the first recorded usage as in 1942, but this is the usage most Roald Dahl fans will be familiar with:

“Every human bean is diddly and different. Some is scrumdiddlyumptious and some is uckyslush.”

– Roald Dahl, The BFG, 1982

Roald Dahl was a magnificent human bean, and his books helped to shape who I am today. I will always delight in reading his stories, and I know I am not alone in that.


Sources:

  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online
  • Shutterstock (image)

‘Leak’ and ‘leek’

This post is inspired by one of my favourite GIFs and probably the only part of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 I can actually remember: “Ahh! There’s a leek in the boat!”. I’ve spent more time rewatching that clip than I care to admit.

Leak and leek are, of course, homophones. The similar spelling means that they are frequently used in place of each other.

Leak

  • a crack or hole that allows the accidental escape or entrance of liquid, gas, radiation, etc.; to allow the accidental escape or entrance of contents through a hole or crack
  • the escaping or entering liquid, etc.
  • a disclosure of secret information; to make secret information public
  • an act or instance of leaking

leekLeek

  • a plant of the onion family with a slender cylindrical white bulb and flat green overlapping leaves

My tip: leeks are green. And if you would like to describe something that resembles a leek, I have just the word: porraceous.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online