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Opening Arguments

Word time

Time for one of my periodic rants about the misuse of words. I've encountered two big ones in the same week, one of them twice.

The twofer is "slight" of hand instead of "sleight" of hand to mean prestidigitation, magic, fooling people, etc. Look, they sound the same, but mean different things, 'K? The only correct way to use "slight of hand" is to mean somebody with teeny, tiny hands. One of the goofs was in a newspaper article that should have been edited better, the other in a best-selling novel by an author who should know better.

The second was the old flaunt/flout mix-up. I caught a little bit of Rush Limbaugh on the way home at lunch today, and he was going on about President Obama's executive action on illegal immigration and how he was "flaunting" the Constitution. No, no, no. He may be flaunting (showing off preeningly) his disdain for constitutional principles, but what he is actually doing to the document itself is flouting it, or ignoring it and showing a blatant contempt for it.

OK, class dismissed.


Fri, 01/16/2015 - 9:57am

Mr. Morris, as an etymologist you might appreciate this site if you have not yet discovered it.