Working intermittently on a big old elaborate post which is taking a while to fruiten.

In the interim I’m slapping together, as per usual in such circumstances, another episode of the old blog standby, the word usage and grammar philippic. This one’s rather brief, but I hope it will abate any withdrawal symptoms you may be experiencing, Dear Reader(s).

  • guesstimate. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an estimate usually made without adequate information.” The Oxford English Dictionary says it’s “an estimate which is based on both guesswork and reasoning.”  Listen, something is either a guess or it’s an estimate! You can have a well-informed guess or a poor estimate, but the former is still a guess and the latter is still an estimate. These species do not commingle. No viable offspring here. Incidentally, I was amazed to find out how long this misbegotten creature’s been around; M-W says 1923, while the OED cites a 1936 New York Times article. The OED is incorrect, however. I searched the Times’ website and the oldest citation there is:

    ‘GUESSTIMATE’ APPRAISAL.; Realtor Coins New Word to Express Careless Methods. [May 6, 1928, Sunday · Section: Classified Ad, Page 197, 135 words]

    Sorry, I can’t tell you any more about it because I wasn’t going to pay $3.95 to see the rest.

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My adoring fans demand, demand, a new post. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that overwhelming. Fully half of my regular readers asked me to get back on the keyboard and do something. Well, it’s really only one person, Dish, but since I have only two regular readers it’s technically half. (update: while I was intermittently composing this, curlywurlygurly chimed in in agreement, so now 100% of my quote fans unquote are breathing down my neck).

My response? The hoariest of blog staples: the diatribe on word usage and grammar! Ta-da!

Yes, I know everyone does at least one of these. But in this case I’m doing it to show you all that I’m not special. I’m just like everyone else: I put my panties on one leg at a time (then I take them off because they’re inside-out, put them on one leg at a time again, take them off because they’re backwards, and put them on yet again one leg at a time – hmm… maybe I am “special”).

So anyway, I have so many gripes about language that I’m sure I could write a whole book on the subject, but I’ll limit this post to a select few that are (a) most prominent in my mind right now, and (b) have, I believe, not already been written about to death by every blogger and their little sister (apostrophes, axe vs. ask, “should of,” et al.). (more…)