Weekend Wrinkle: 3 Phrases I Avoid

Some phrases give me a migraine.

headache clipartEnglish is such a mishmash of other languages that many expressions get misused. They muddy our writing and sometimes make us look like buffoons. Often it’s tough to decide whether common use has made them legitimate, so I usually duck the issue altogether and look for alternatives.

Near Miss and Near Hit

I used to think that “near miss” meant that something was actually hit as in “nearly missed.” However, if we think of “near” as an adjective (meaning in close proximity) for the noun “miss,” we can logically see it is a miss, but it was darn close. Same thing goes for “near hit.”

However, there is much contention about this in the grammarsphere. My policy? Avoid these phrases altogether and use something else like “narrow escape” or “barely successful.”

(Apparently, Thesaurus.com thinks these two are synonyms. Arghhh!)

Nauseous vs. Nauseated

Grammar bluebloods will tell you that “nauseous” is used when something causes or evokes sickness. For example, odors, murder scenes, and horrendous misuse of the English language can be nauseous. Purists will tell you that “nauseated” is what I feel when I see butchered writing.

However, common usage is making these two words interchangeable. The solution for me is to say, “This writing makes me feel ill!”

I Could Care Less

This means that people care, but they could make the effort to not care as much. If we mean this is something that doesn’t even enter into our thinking, “I could care less” is just wrong! The correct phrase is, “I couldn’t care less.”

In this case, I avoid using the incorrect phrase and make sure I’m putting in that all-important negative.

To keep myself out of the medicine chest, I will practice avoidance and use another phrase when faced with an “iffy” expression. What’s your strategy?

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