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It’s not “look-a-like,” it’s “look-alike,” as in “Those twins look alike.” It’s not “sing-a-long,” it’s “sing-along,” as in “Sing along with me.”


A writing annoyance: “I trust you implicitly.”

“Implicit” means implied — that is, not expressed overtly. If you say that you’re implying something, then you’re no longer implying it. Saying “I trust you implicitly” is as self-contradictory as saying, “I’m not talking now.” Don’t do it. As my colleague Kevin VanHook has suggested, use “completely” instead.


To put someone through the wringer is to wring him out or make him suffer an equivalent agony.

To put someone through the ringer is — well, I guess it’s to slip him through a bell, which doesn’t make much sense.

It’s wringer, folks, not ringer.


An editor’s peeve: Person X performed action Y “before she died.” Well, obviously. She couldn’t do it after she died, right?

If you mean “shortly before she died” or something like that, say it — but “before she died” isn’t enough.


An overused word: Livid, as in “livid with anger.” Livid usually means the purplish or black-and-blue color of a bruise or the lower half of a corpse, where all of the blood has drained after death. Have you ever seen someone so angry that he went purple or his face seemed bruised? I haven’t.



The Grumpy Editor