Tag Archives: word choice

“Waying” In on the Use of “Way”

HUNT’S HEADLINES comes from my buddy Todd Hunt who’s dedicated to wrapping communication lessons in laughter. He’s a guy who notices the humor in the little things, then sends his commentary out into the world (or at least to his subscriber list). (Sign up at http://www.toddhuntspeaker.com)

This recent entry tickled my funny bone:

I’ve been on a word kick, I know…but wrong is wrong.

 The latest offender?

 Way. As a replacement for “much.”

 You hear it in casual conversation…“He’s way heavier since he got divorced.”

 That’s not correct, of course. It should be “much heavier.”

 Now we’re seeing it in respected national publications, such as this front-page article in an advertising trade journal:

 “Pampers’ breakthrough new Dry Max is 20% thinner and way more absorbent that its predecessor.”

 Can’t we say “much more?” Or “far more?” Or even just “more?” It’s way cooler.

 Did Todd get your attention? Please share your thoughts below.

Differentiating “Barbarous” and “Barbaric”

It’s wonderful to know I’m not alone in helping writers improve their craft and taking that extra step in making correct word choices.

In particular, I appreciate the unyielding effort of Maeve Maddox, whose Daily Writing Tips faithfully shows up in my inbox every day. She digs into the background and contemporary use of English-language verbiage with gusto.

Here’s what Maeve wrote to distinguish barbarous and barbaric, included here with her permission.

Both words derive from a Greek word meaning “foreign.” The original word was coined as a nonsense word to indicate the sound of a language other than Greek. For the ancient Greeks, the only civilized language was Greek. Anything else was gibberish.

At first a “barbarian” was simply a non-Greek, a foreigner. After the Persian wars, the word took on a pejorative sense. A barbarian was not just foreign; he was uncivilized and brutal.

As far as the Greeks were concerned, the Romans were barbarians, but the Romans adopted the word to refer to any nation outside the sphere of Greek or Roman civilization.

Both barbaric and barbarous were in English by the 16th century. Barbaric was used with the meaning “foreign, strange, outlandish,” Barbarous first meant what the Romans meant by it, “not Greek or Latin,” but it soon came to mean “uncultured, savage,” and by the 1580s had taken on the sense of “savagely cruel.”

In modern usage barbarous and barbaric are used interchangeably to mean “uncivilized.” (Click here for examples and Maddox’s complete post.)

The conclusion? Use barbaric to denote uncivilized behavior with violence ; use barbarous for matters of language and manners.


When to Use “Quote” versus “Quotation”

Several writers weighed in on a recent Word Tripper differentiating “quote” and “quotation.” Here’s what the Word Tripper from July 30th said:

Quotation, quote – A “quotation” is a set of words that is copied or repeated, such as a passage from a book, speech, etc.; in commerce, it is also a statement of market price of a commodity or security. A “quote” is a cost estimate from a vendor or service provider. Thus, you wouldn’t write, “Here is a quote from Shakespeare…”; it should read “Here is a quotation from Shakespeare…” instead.

However, some dictionaries and language experts state that “quote” as a noun is interchangeable with the first “quotation” definition above. Personal preferences plays a part in this one. I prefer the stricter usage that differentiates them. Which one would you choose and why?

And here’s a potpourri of comments received. Do you agree? Disagree? Please weigh in yourself!

“Quote” has a verbal flavor to it. When you tell me “here’s a quote by Winston Churchill,” I feel like I’m getting in touch with his actual speaking the words. A hint of the kinesthetic. “Quotation,” on the other hand, feels like it’s a done deal. It’s the words he said, like here is an interesting statement of Winnie’s that is so right on! It’s an elite sentence that’s perhaps been around for a while.
– Max Dixon

I’m strongly in favor of more precise language. The more refined our use and meaning of every word we choose, in writing or aloud, the greater clarity we are able to achieve!
– Laura Key

I am becoming more and more dismayed at excuses for incorrect grammar used by such supposedly educated people as journalists and advertisers. Every time I hear “it’s at,” I am rankled. I find blurring the line between “quote” and “quotation” another example of self-serving rationalization for improper use of the English language. As writers, let’s raise the bar rather than agreeing to keep lowering it.
– Sarah Mohr

I think that common usage has blurred the strict differentiation of the two words. The change in some of the dictionaries indicates that to me. So, I will likely not be so definite when I write.
– Elaine Ness

The terms in any dictionary only reflect the current usage of a word, not its original meaning only. So even when we disagree with the new interpretation, we are “obligated” to follow the lead of the dictionaries and accept the new meaning of the word.
– Ginger Sawatzki

I’m certainly guilty of using the two interchangeably, but my preference is for using the stricter definition of quotation for a grouping of words spoken or written by another person.
– Paulette Livers

My preference is to use the stricter usage, especially in writing so the message doesn’t get garbled. It might be OK to get away with “quote” when using Twitter since they only allow 140 characters.
– Bill Short

I prefer to use quote as the verb and quotation as the noun. “To quote Shakespeare” sounds so much better on the ear than “Here’s a quote from Shakespeare.” I realize that language is always in a state of fluidity, but its nice to have a little structure to rely upon.
– Jude Johnson

Quote is a verb, meaning to repeat the words of another (ideally with acknowledgement), and quotation is a noun. But what’s a part of speech these days, with everything else we have to deal with.
– Ruth Mullens