by Marsha Ward
Today I have a few more examples of words that I have seen misused and the proper words folks meant to say or write.
gambut This isn't even a real word. The writer must have meant gambit, but even then, it was wrong in the context in which it was used. She really meant to use gamut. I can see where the "u" in "gambut" came from. Here are the definitions:
Gambit: n. 1 Chess an opening in which a pawn, etc. is sacrificed to get an advantage in position 2 an action intended to gain an advantage. From the Spanish word, gambito, a tripping.
Remember the MacGuyver gambits?
Gamut: n. 1 any complete musical scale 2 the entire range or extent, as of emotions. From the Greek letter gamma, for the lowest note of the medieval scale.
Let's look at other errors:
ancestor/descendant: I see or hear this frequently. Ancestor is the progenitor or forefather/mother of you. You are their descendant. Ancestor is up the line, descendant is down. To make this shorter, I won't give dictionary definitions here.
sells/sales: Sells is a conjugation of the verb "to sell," as in "Janet Evanovich sells a lot of Stephanie Plum books." However, the misuse I have seen/heard lately is where it is employed in the place of sales, a plural noun referring to receipts in business, or the work of, or a department involved in, selling, as in "Sheila obtained a job in sales."
pension/penchant: Wow! This one blew me away, it was so wrong. A pension is a regular payment to one who is retired or disabled. A penchant is a strong liking or inclination. The misuse was along the lines of "Given our pension for choosing multiple social media outlets...." See why it startled me so much?
in tact/intact: I see a lot of this in written usage. The correct form is intact, meaning kept or left whole. In tact takes us to the realm of a delicate perception of the right thing to say to avoid giving offense. Intack is just wrong!
I've edited "English Oopsies" from two weeks ago to include the mistakes I found in the online news report. If you played along, check it out.
But before you leave, can you spot the slight pun in the post above?