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uses of the word as, “ He allows he can defeat his opponent,” are mere vulgarisms.
Balance (Latin, bilancem, scales) denotes equilibrium. It should, therefore, not be used for remainder.
Citizen. It is proper to call a person a citizen when he is spoken of in relation to the state, but improper when in relation to his fellow-men; as, “Some citizens behaved badly on show day.”
Aggravate (Latin, aggravare, to make worse) means to make worse. It is often improperly used for vex or annoy.
Transpire should not be used for happen.
Eliminate means literally to throw out of doors. Hence it should not be used for elicit or draw forth.
Extend is to increase in one or all directions, to stretch out. So we should not say, “ Extend an invitation."
Replace. Literally, we can replace only that which was previously in its place; but such expressions as, “ He can never hope to replace so eminent a man" seem to have obtained a strong foothold in the language.
Dock should be distinguished from wharf. A dock is usually an excavation, while a wharf is an elevation.
Plenty is often wrongly construed as an adjective; as, " Money is plenty this year."
Mistaken. To mistake is to take wrongly, so to be mistaken should mean to be taken by error for some one else. Say, “You are in error,” not, “ You are mistaken.”
To a degree is sometimes used where exceedingly would be the
At length should not be used for at last. At length means fully ; at last, finally.
Nice is now one of those “social” adjectives that are used for almost any quality that pleases the speaker. Its correct meaning is delicate and exact.
Description should not be used for kind or sort.
"contemptuous " for "contemptible"; "exceptionable" for "ex ceptional”; “respectfully" for “respectively" ; "observation" for “observance"; "purpose" for "propose."
PROPRIETY. DIRECTION. — Point out the word that is not properly used, supply the correct word, and give the ordinary meaning of the rejected word.
1. His conduct aggravates me continually.
Johnson died from blows administered by a policeman. 5. The measures adopted by the House will do good. 6. He allows that he has the finest horse in the country. 7. This road will serve to convene the public. 8. A great amount of perfection has been attained in that art. 9. He was unwilling to demean himself by a public apology. 10. The alternatives set before him were, to abjure the faith, to submit to the torture, or to go into perpetual exile.
11. He had exceptionable opportunities for learning the language.
12. The troops, though fighting bravely, were terribly decimated, nearly half of them having fallen.
13. I have sat and heard him tell any amount of anecdotes. 14. I have always considered him an honest man.
15. “Sir," said he to Dr. Parr, “I have a contemptible opinion of you." "That does not surprise me," replied the Doctor; "all your opinions are contemptible.”
16. We have travelled quite a piece to-day.
18. We had a nice time yesterday; the weather was nice, the company was nice, and everything went off nice.
19. Peaches are very plenty this season. 20. I have every confidence that he will turn out well. 21. I expect you have had a great many difficulties. 22. His manner is calculated to hinder his business. 23. A vessel of this description had been hovering in sight. 24. He aims at eliminating truth from spirit, fact and duty from uth. 25. The elevation of 100 feet eliminated a hearty cheer.
26. It also looks to the final elimination of the soul from the body.
27. When the boat came ashore, it contained only one female. 28. Can we suppose that good blood replaces teaching ? 29. I declare this is the most splendid bay I ever witnessed. 30. They followed the ancient avocation of picking pockets.
31. He is fond of reading such fictitious writers as Hawthorne. 32. A young man abortively seized two pieces of alpaca. 33. A lady having two boys, would like to adopt one.
34. A society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, has lately been inaugurated.
35. A great part of the congregation went home at ten o'clock, but the balance remained till twelve.
36. She has several other little poems of a much higher calibre.
37. There is an article in the last issue of our contemporary under the above caption.
38. Several citizens carried the sufferer to a drug store on the next block.
39. The marriage was happily consummated at Paris last April.
40. The Mosque in Eastern lands must go, and the Christian Church will replace it.
41. The President convened Congress early in January. 42. This application of reason predicates a great national future. 43. An invitation was extended to him to dine with his friends. 44. He was at length induced to desist.
45. His name has never been replaced by any other in the transaction.
46. Twice in history has there been witnessed the struggle of the highest individual genius against a nation.
47. If you are of that opinion, you are mistaken.
Precision consists in selecting the word or expression that conveys the exact meaning intended
no more, no less. Examples. - It would be more correct to say damp clothes than moist clothes, because anything is said to be damp when the wetness is from some outward cause, or when the article is in an abnormal state ; while that is moist which is naturally damp, as the soil when fitted for vegetation.
We say a vacant chair, not an empty chair; for though both words imply that the chair has no occupant, yet vacant conveys the idea that it should be filled, but is not, while empty simply means that there is nothing in it.
How attained. As English abounds in words which express nearly the same meaning, great exactness of expression is possible, and much care and thought are necessary to be able to select always the word which conveys just what is meant. Much may be learned by observing the practice of good authors, but the most efficient method of attaining precision is the careful and continuous study of synonyms. This may be carried on by collating and examining words of nearly the same meaning ; by revising every sentence that one writes, and studiously inquiring whether each word in it is accurately used; and by the study of some standard work on the subject, such as Crabb's or Smith's Synonyms, or Roget's Thesaurus.
Further Examples. — In order more fully to illustrate the subject a few synonyms are here explained, but they must be regarded, by those who would attain proficiency, as the merest beginning.
1. Visitor, Visitant. Visitor or visitant is one who pays a visit ; but a visitor is a human being, and a visitant, a supernatural one.
2. Neglect, Negligence. Neglect is an act, or, rather, a failure to act; negligence implies a failure to conform to an established standard or custom.
3. Continual, Continuous. Continual is said of acts that are frequently repeated; continuous of uninterrupted action.
4. Remember, Recollect. Remember implies only that the impression remains ; recollect, that an effort is made to recall to the mind something that for the time seems to have escaped it.
5. Utter, Express. To utter is simply to sound anything with the voice; to express carries the additional idea of meaning and formality.
6. Crime, Sin. Crime is a violation of law divine or human, though it is now generally applied to offences against the state. Sin is a departure from divine law.