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Words that are wrongly used


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A lot of words get misused to the point where their original meaning is almost forgotten. Here are a few examples:

The most well known example is "gay" which actually meant that someone is being "happy" or "carefree" but try to use this word in it's original meaning these days and see what happens  :devil:.

Another word that people tend to misuse is "bemused". People usually think it means "amused", but it actually means "confused".

Here's another example, and this one is being misused almost every time: to "decimate". People tend to use it as a synonym for "obliterate" or "devastate" but in reality, this word comes from the Latin "decimatio" which was a form of military punishment in the Roman Army where one in ten men was killed. So when you say that something was decimated it actually implies that only 10 percent of it has been destroyed.

What wrongly used words have you come across?

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I would say the word "suicide" gets used incorrectly. Suicide itself is a noun because of its suffix "-cide," and it refers to the act of killing oneself. However people think it is acceptable to say "He suicided." The proper way to say it is "He committed suicide," because it suicide is not a verb.

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"It's" is probably the biggest misused English word in existence. You would think the difference between "it's" and "its" would be common knowledge, since the apostrophe indicates the word always means "it is".

Yet when people try to describe gender-less possession of something, the apostrophe always sneaks in there, for example, "The mailman took the letter to it's proper destination"

The apostrophe means the word is ALWAYS "it is". Therefore, the sentence above makes no sense. It's ridiculous how many professional writers out there can't seem to separate the two words, or they just don't realize "its" exists at all.

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Funny how you mentioned that topic thekernel, I actually wrote a thread about that in the English Grammar section. If you would be so kind as to check it out and provide some feedback or maybe correct something that I might have missed  :grin:. http://linguaholic.com/english-grammar/%27its%27-vs-%27it%27s%27/

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However people think it is acceptable to say "He suicided." The proper way to say it is "He committed suicide," because it suicide is not a verb.

Do people really say 'suicided'?  :amazed: That's just so wrong. Fortunately I never heard anyone saying that.

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Literally. I think they even ended up changing the dictionary definition to accommodate how how often it's misused.

LOL good call. I see this brought up all the time, but I always forget about it until I witness it in front of me, I'll probably be noticing this a lot more now that you've reminded me. Saying this word nowadays has become so trendy that it's almost lost all meaning, in my opinion.  :angel:

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I would say the word "suicide" gets used incorrectly. Suicide itself is a noun because of its suffix "-cide," and it refers to the act of killing oneself. However people think it is acceptable to say "He suicided." The proper way to say it is "He committed suicide," because it suicide is not a verb.

People actually say "Suicided?" Wow. Even when I saw the red line under it, I almost changed it to "suicide", then I realized I meant to misspell it.  :shy:

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So this is a bit off-topic - it's a misused phrase: "for all intents and purposes." Generally, if you listen closely, you'll hear people say "for all intensive purposes." I think even native English speakers don't figure this one out entirely until they're 21 or 22.

The other word that people tend to use incorrectly is "Inconceivable!" ;)

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A common statement that is often used wrong is when something states that they are 'starving'. Granted, there are many people out there that may be starving, but a human being that has consistently been eating and has access to food should rather say they are 'hungry' than 'starving'. As 'starving' implies that the person is suffering or dying from hunger.

I guess it's just a pet peeve with me, but whenever I hear someone use the wrong term, I correct them off the bat. Even if I don't even know them. Haha.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ooooh, some of my pet peeves:

"Ultimate" used as "best" instead of "last" - "the ultimate racing game!" (oh, how I wish it was...).

(Of course, "ultimate" can be the last in a series of consistently better things and therefore have the meaning "best", but you know what I mean here!).

"Very unique", which is impossible. It is either unique or not.

"Literally" (as mentioned above).

"I could care less", which amuses me every time, since they really mean "I couldn't care less". I usually respond by saying "Good! In that case, you'll take care of the problem."

"Everyday" when they should use "every day". The same goes for "anytime", "anyday", "everyway" and all other stupid concatenations.

"Viral". In most cases, I wish it were viral... and deadly to the speaker. Most manager-speak makes me grind my teeth in annoyance, come to think of it.

"Enormity", which means monstrous or passing all moral bounds. The dictionary has had to change to include the (for me) incorrect usage as "really big".

I could go on and on, but I won't.  :laugh:

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I often find people don't know the meaning of "irony", when they go about spurting things like "it's so ironic". I got a lot of that this last weekend regarding Paul Walker's death: "Oh, he had those Fast & Furious movies and died in a car crash because of speed, how ironic". No, it's not. Ironic would be if he was run-over by an old lady driving 10 mph.

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I have heard lots of people misuse compelled as a word. Many of them always think that it means that someone had the willingness to do something but it is not always the case since it most valid meaning is unwillingness, being forced to do something unwillingly.

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There are two words that come to mind. One is Affect, and the other is Effect. They get misused more than they should.

The second words that come to mind are Then and Than. They get mixed up too.

As far as slang, when the lights get cut-off, is correct, but I hear people say, I need my lights "cut-on". There is absolutely no sense in that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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