Words sometimes confused: faint and feint by Angela Caldin

Faint and feint are homophones, but they have different meanings. Faint can be a noun, a verb, and an adjective. As a noun and verb it refers to a brief loss of consciousness. As an adjective, it means lacking in strength, conviction, clarity, or brightness. She turned her ankle so badly on the uneven path that she fell down in a faint. Noun. The shock was so great when the guilty verdict was announced that he fainted. Verb. They were hanging on to the faint hope that there were still people alive… Read More

Wordplay by Trevor Plumbly

As she is spoke Since losing most of my operational sight, I rely heavily on language to gauge reactions. Blindness, despite the myth, hasn’t improved my hearing capacity, just forced me to place more value on word use. I find it hard to accept the current trend of cutting perfectly good words in half without comment, though every time I moan about someone butchering language, I get the same chorus, ‘language is constantly evolving’. If it is, then surely it’s preferable that the process is tailored to improve it rather than reduce… Read More

Fans and stans by Angela Caldin

I came across a word that was new to me the other day. It was at the end of a Randy Rainbow tribute to Dr Fauci which was itself a parody of the song Gee, Officer Krupke from West Side Story. Randy sings ‘Dr Fauci, you’re the one we stan.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUiDLcp_hIw I thought this was a strange verb and that maybe it was a mistake and had some letters missing. But then I saw the word again in The Guardian when the columnist Hadley Freeman wrote that she was ‘no Prince William… Read More

Angela’s ABCs flout and flaunt words sometimes confused

It seemed to me that flout and flaunt were sufficiently different for it to be difficult to confuse them. I thought their meanings were clear. If you don’t comply with a rule, you are flouting it. If you make a big display of your success, you are flaunting it It seems that I was wrong. I was tut-tutting to myself the other day because I noticed that one of The Guardian’s coronavirus update writers had used flaunt to mean flout. Nobody seemed particularly bothered. When I did some research, I realised this… Read More

Words sometimes confused: continuous and continual by Angela Caldin

I know that there is a difference between continuous and continual and I remember being taught about it at school. But sometimes I forget what the difference is. So I’m explaining it for my benefit and for the benefit of anyone else who might like to know that they are not synonyms. Continuous indicates that something goes on without interruption, whereas continual indicates that something goes on over a period of time, but with intervals of interruption. The continuous noise of machinery from the next door factory began to affect her health…. Read More