Favorite

Words Jan. 19 

Don’t let your skivvies get skeevy:

“I find myself giving a polite brush-off to perfectly nice guys out of habit, and then realizing a day later, ‘Hey, that guy was actually pretty nice, and not skeevy. What did I just do?’ ”

I couldn’t find skeevy in a standard dictionary. The online Urban Dictionary says it’s slang for “sleazy, creepy, nasty.”

Skeevy is new to me, but I know skivvy and skivvies. That should be worth points. Skivvy is a disparaging British term for a female servant. Skivvies are underwear — or, more precisely, skivvies are “underwear consisting of a cotton T-shirt and shorts.”



Abolish abolishment:

I’m weary of reading that a legislator is seeking the abolishment of a government program, or that an errant lawyer has received an admonishment from a disciplinary body. Abolition and admonition fill the bill nicely, and are prettier besides. Abolishment and admonishment are what Garner’s Dictionary of Modern American Usage calls “needless variants” — “two or more forms of the same word without nuance or differentiation.” The Dictionary quotes H.W. Fowler: “It is a source not of strength but of weakness that there should be two names for the same thing [by-forms differing merely in suffix or in some such minor point], because the reasonable assumption is that two words mean two things, and confusion results when they do not.” Garner conludes: “To the extent possible, words and phrases rightly classifiable as needless variants ought to be dropped from the language.”

So are we agreed that abolishment and admonishment are out? I don’t want to have to go over this again.



The use of quote as a noun meaning “quotation” is rather widely accepted now — Random House endorses it, for one — but after coming across Wilson Follett’s thoughts on the subject, I may revert to the old rule that quote is only a verb. He says: “The innovation [quote as a noun] delights those who do not mind crudity if they can have succinctness. Whoever makes this choice must expect after a time to see The cite is Browning’s / The refer is not clear / The allude leaves me baffled.”






Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

More by Max Brantley

  • Uber sued for again avoiding city rules

    The Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission Tuesday sued the parent of Uber Eats for beginning food delivery in Little Rock without obtaining the tax permit to sell prepared food as other food service delivery companies have done.
    • Mar 20, 2019
  • The freebie action today is daylight stuff

    The freebies are served in daylight today thanks to a coming sort spring break for the legislature.
    • Mar 20, 2019
  • Report: Feds holding immigrant children in secret locations, including in Arkansas

    Reveal, a website of the Center for Investigative Reporting, published an article this week saying the federal government through the Office of Refugee Resettlement is using secret shelters to hold unaccompanied minors, including in Fordyce, Arkansas.
    • Mar 20, 2019
  • More »

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: How to speak cat

    • Albert. Nice name. Saw a smalltown newspaper contest once looking for the best cat name…

    • on March 18, 2019
 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation