Category: write better English

Doggerel: How words originate

With no less than eight beautiful loving dogs at home, and witnessing the birth of three perfect puppies, I am rather distressed to learn that the origin of the word ‘doggerel’ originates from a time when people thought dogs were less than honorary human beings.

Can you just image living in such a heartless age?

Money in my salad: slang in language

Eat your greens, earn your bucks
Photo by Hector Bermudez  – Unsplash

This week while working on a copy assignment for a bank, I looked up other words that mean money.  I was surprised by what Google returned. In addition to a few formal words, five or so, there were a large number of slang words – probably more than 80.

Of Smoke and Mirrors and other idioms

A good friend told me this week – her ship had come in.

This means a change in luck, a sudden shower of good fortune or a great success.

When I heard this news, I was delighted for my friend, but also sceptical. So, I kept my distance and held off on the back-slapping and celebratory dancing.

Making mountains out of molehills: idioms

If you’re from a family who tends to exaggerate, you will be familiar with the term making a mountain out of a molehill.

This may come about in a number of ways. If you forget to bring a cake to a tea party, your host might show a great deal of distress over your forgetfulness. The guests might think her performance is unnecessary as  most of them are on a raw-foods diet.

Chinese Wall is moral dilemma: How idioms originate

Chinese Wall in Poker
Poker is the perfect example of not showing your hand (photo by Raymond Tan)

As I contemplate my next travel destination, my enthusiasm starts with a trip to Russia, then Egypt and Morocco and finally India, again.

Then it occurs to me, having just finished reading Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin, why not China?

Dual opinions come to blows: how words are misused

Working as a writer and copy editor, I have noticed how the brain tricks you, or me. If the word sounds right in the mind it’s easy for it to be mistaken as the right word.

For example, earlier this week, in the final proofread of my book review I wrote about a ‘smaller waste’ and the context was food so it was even easier to miss. Just moments before submitting the final draft, I realised that what I meant was ‘smaller waist’.

A pig in a poke

Pig out
Picture credit: Suzanne Tucker

Should you be interested in investments to the point that you  start reading books about them, don’t be surprised to find the term ‘a pig in a poke’.

When you see this idiom, you could think that the author is referring to something that occurred that was not quite to his liking or something that did not quite measure up to his expectations.

Know your whopping from your whooping: word usage

ghandaid unsplash.jpg
Picture by Ishant Mishra

In my days as a sub-editor, on seeing the word ‘whopping’ I would strike it out immediately. This was for two reasons: it was usually placed before an amount; adjectives at the best of times, in press writing are not required, particularly when the noun is a tell-all. For example, $500 billion, does not need to be further qualified by the descriptor ‘whopping’.

No such thing as a free webinar

webinar.jpg
Money up front for webinar 

Last night I tuned into a webinar and it might just be my last.

I have done many, maintaining my naivety and unfailing hope to find the magic, the million, the answer to life’s deepest questions, and the fastest way to  make a fortune, always ending with the same promise.

Seasonal snag for armpit advertising

armpit pic

I was intrigued and a little disgusted to read that Japan is using women’s armpits as an advertising medium.