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Webster's Dictionary of English Usage PDF

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Ci WjeMum-luels&i Webster's Dictionary of EnglishUsage. The definitive guide to Modern English usage. Scholarship, authority, and the support of more than 20,000 illustrative quotations from some of the best writers in the language. Webster's Dictionary of EnglishUsage Entry irregardless This adverb, apparently a blend of irre spective and regardless, originated in dialectal Ameri can speech in the early 20th century (according to the History of American Dialect Dictionary, it was first recorded in the usage western Indiana in 1912). Its use in nonstandard speech had become widespread enough by the 1920s to make it a natural in a story by Ring Lardner: I told them that irregardless of what you read in books, they's some members of the theatrical profession that occasionally visits the place where they sleep —Ring Lardner, The Big Town, 1921 Its widespread use also made it a natural in books by usage commentators, and it has appeared in such History of books regularly at least since Krapp 1927. The most the criticism frequently repeated comment about it is that "there is no such word." Word or not, irregardless has continued in fairly common spoken use, although its bad reputation has Analysis of not improved with the years. It does occur in the casual contemporary speech and writing of educated people, and it even usage finds its way into edited prose on rare occasion: ... allow the supplier to deliver his product, irre gardless of whether or not his problem is solved —John Cosgrove, Datamation, 1 Dec. 1971 ... irrespective of whether the source is identified Examples of and irregardless of whether all that news is dissem contemporary - inated to the general public —Robert Hanley, usage N.Y. Times, 25 Oct. 1977 The spherical agglomerates occur in these pow ders, irregardless of starting composition —Pred- icasts Technology Update, 25 Aug. 1984 But irregardless is still a long way from winning general acceptance as a standard English word. Use regardless Conclusion and instead. recommendation A GENUINE MERRIAM-WEBSTER9 ISBN 0-0777T-035-cl More people take our word for it 38915 780877"790327" Webster's Dictionary of EnglishUsage Webster's Dictionary of English Usage is a work of unparalleled au thority and scholarship from Merriam- Webster, America's leading dictionary publisher for almost 150 years. Our editors have long been documenting the use of those words that pose spe cial problems of confused or disputed usage. Thus this work brings to the reader resources that include what is believed to be the world's largest archive of 20th-century English usage, almost 14 million citations (examples of words used in context), collected over 100 years from thousands of sources, ranging from the Times Literary Sup plement to Scientific American. Webster's Dictionary of English Usage is intended to serve the reader or writer who wishes to go beyond the personal predilections of a particular commentator or the subjective pro nouncements of a usage panel. It is ideal for anyone who wants to under stand the nature of the problematical usage and what others have had to say about it; how accomplished writers actually deal with the matter, whether what they do is in keeping with the received wisdom or not; and the basis for the advice offered. Webster's Dictionary of English Usage presents all of these things in a clear and readable fashion. For those who love the language this is not just a reference book to be picked up only to settle a dispute or solve a practical writing problem. Here is the real stuff of language, the opportunity to experi ence its vitality through more than MERRIAM-WEBSTER INC. Springfield, MA 01102 20,000 illustrative quotations from the best writers in the language. Webster's Dictionary of English Usage belongs on the bookshelf or desk of everyone who is serious about the language. Its wealth of information and careful guidance will amply repay the modest investment of its purchase. ADDITIONAL REFERENCES FROM MERRIAM-WEBSTER • THE UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY Webster's Third New International — A masterpiece of modern defining—more than 460,000 entries, with 200,000 usage examples and 1,000 synonym articles. 3,000 terms illustrated. Sim plified pronunciation key and clear, informative etymologies. The standard authority. • DESK SIZE DICTIONARY Webster's Ninth New Collegiate—The newest in the famous Collegiate Series. Almost 160,000 entries and 200,000 definitions. Entries for words often mis used and confused include a clear, authoritative guide to good usage. No other dictionary resolves more issues —how to spell it, how to say it, how to use it. And it is the dictionary that tells you how old a word is. • THESAURUS Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus—At last a new and innovative thesaurus that makes word-finding easy. More than 100,000 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic phrases, related and con trasted words to choose from. An in valuable guide to a more precise and effective use of the language. MERRIAM-WEBSTER INC. Springfield, MA 01102 Webster's Dictionary of English Usage d ® ® Merriam-Webster Inc., Publishers Springfield, Massachusetts A GENUINE MERRIAM-WEBSTER The name Webster alone is no guarantee of excellence. It is used by a number of publishers and may serve mainly to mislead an unwary buyer. A Merriam- Webster® is the registered trademark you should look for when you consider the purchase of dictionaries or other fine reference books. It carries the reputation of a company that has been publishing since 1831 and is your assurance of quality and authority. Copyright © 1989 by Merriam-Webster Inc. Philippines Copyright 1989 by Merriam-Webster Inc. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Main entry under title: Webster's dictionary of English usage. Bibliography: p. 974 1. English language—Usage—Dictionaries. PE1460.W425 1989 428/.003 88-37248 ISBN 0-87779-032-9 All rights reserved. No part of this book covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means—graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems—without written permission of the publisher. Made in the United States of America 3456RA919089 Preface Webster's Dictionary of English Usage examines and ers, and others. The Explanatory Notes attempt to antic- evaluates common problems of confused or disputed ipate users' questions with information about the con- English usage from two perspectives: that of historical ventions employed within the dictionary itself. Fol- background, especially as shown in the great historical lowing the last entry is a Bibliography, which serves the dictionaries, and that of present-day usage, chiefly as dual purpose of recording those commentaries on usage, shown by evidence in the Merriam-Webster files. Most dictionaries, grammars, and other works frequently con- of the topics treated have been selected from existing sulted during the writing of this book and being a source books on usage, primarily those published in the second of suggestions for further reading. half of the 20th century; a few have emerged too recently It is the fate of most of the harmless drudges in the to have yet become part of the tradition of usage com- lexicographical world to receive their most material mentary. We have also ranged freely over much earlier tribute in the unread front matter of a book. This time- books, many of which contain the seeds of current con- honored tradition will be continued here. By rights the cerns. Most of our topics have been commented on by entire Merriam-Webster editorial staff could be listed, numerous writers; the pet peeves of individual com- since almost everyone has contributed at least indi- mentators have in the main been passed over. During rectly, but instead we will list only those who worked the course of writing this book, new books on usage directly on the book. Staff members are grouped accord- were published, and they find mention in entries written ing to their several tasks. The conspicuous avoidance of after they were received, but no systematic attempt has alphabetical order in listing names is intended only to been made to incorporate mention of them in entries provide a temporary escape from the tyranny of the written before they were received. alphabet. Besides articles dealing with the traditional concerns The articles were written by Stephen J. Perrault, of usage, we have included many illustrating idiomatic Kathleen M. Doherty, David B. Justice, Madeline L. English usage, chiefly in the area of which prepositions Novak, and E. Ward oilman. They were taken in hand go with which nouns, verbs, and adjectives. In our selec- for copyediting by James G. Lowe, Madeline L. Novak, tion of these we have simply included those that have John M. Morse, and Stephen J. Perrault. The quotations come readily to our attention and have not tried to have been verified by Kathleen M. Doherty, who also make an exhaustive search for them. A thorough treat- compiled the bibliography. Eileen M. Haraty has con- ment of English idioms would require an entire book at nected all the loose wires of cross-reference. The both- least as large as this one. We think our selection is fairly ersome business of proofreading has been carried out by generous—there are about 500 entries—and we have Daniel J. Hopkins, Paul F. Cappellano, Peter D. Haraty, been careful to illustrate instances of varying usage. A Julie A. Collier, Kelly L. Tierney, and Robert D. Cope- number of common spelling problems are also dis- land, as well as some of the aforementioned. The manu- cussed briefly. While the emphasis of this work is prop- script was deciphered and turned into readable type- erly on usage in writing, a small group of articles has script for the compositor by Georgette B. Boucher, been devoted to problems of pronunciation. Barbara A. Winkler, and Helene Gingold; other kinds of Insofar as practicable, we have generously supplied invaluable clerical assistance have been performed by the articles with illustrative quotations on the theory Ruth W. Gaines and Gloria J. Afflitto. Madeline L. that examples of actual usage are more valuable to one Novak directed the book through its typesetting stages. who is actually grappling with a problem in usage than Francine A. Roberts cajoled copies of rare books from are the made-up examples many commentators rely on. various college and university libraries. The entire The bulk of these quotations have been taken from the manuscript has been reviewed by Frederick C. Mish, Merriam-Webster files. We have supplemented our own Editorial Director. resources, as necessary, with quotations taken from James Thurber once referred in a letter to "the perils other published sources, such as the historical dictio- of typo and garble." No reference work is immune from naries and Otto Jespersen's seven-volume Modern these perils in spite of the diligent efforts of copy editors English Grammar. We have tried to identify parenthet- and proofreaders. We can only hope that if you encoun- ically every citation taken from these publications. ter a typo or garble that has slipped through, you are not This preface is followed in the front matter by two misled or confused. We would be glad to know of any sections which we recommend to all users of this work. that are found. A Brief History of English Usage will provide useful ori- We believe that Webster's Dictionary of English entation for readers who wonder how questions involv- Usage contains a wealth of information, along with ing no more than a tiny portion of the huge vocabulary some quite practical advice, and that you will find it a of English and a handful of grammatical constructions useful, interesting, and occasionally entertaining work came to take on so much importance to teachers, writ- of reference. E. Ward Gilman Editor 4a Explanatory Notes Articles of the title combined with the date (as Prentice Hall 1978 or Heritage 1969). Each article in this dictionary, like the entries in a gen- A dictionary referred to as a record of usage is usually eral dictionary, is introduced by one or more boldface given its title without a date on its first appearance in an words indicating the subject for discussion: article (as Dictionary of American Regional English) but is thereafter referred to by a customary abbreviation (as media DARE). The exception to this last rule is the Oxford glimpse, glance English Dictionary, which is consistently cited by the reason is because well-known abbreviation OED. Noah Webster's An agreement: indefinite pronouns American Dictionary of the English Language and its Words that are homographs are distinguished by italic successor editions are cited in this way: editions from labels indicating part of speech: 1828 to 1909 appear as Webster and the year of publi- cation. The two most recent (and most familiar) edi- hold, verb tions are simply called Webster's Second and Webster's hold, noun Third, for the most part, but a date is sometimes added when it seems to be helpful in the context. An article that treats more than one aspect of its sub- ject may be divided into sections, each section intro- Full references to all works cited in these ways appear duced by a boldface arabic numeral. Where it seems use- in the Bibliography at the end of this volume. ful, the topic of the section is indicated with an introductory word or phrase: Illustrative Quotations locate... 1. Locate "settle." ... This book includes thousands of illustrative quotations 2. Located "situated." ... intended to clarify and to test the discussion. These may 3. Locate "find." ... very occasionally be run in with the text but are usually indented and are always followed by an attribution, typ- The articles in this dictionary are too diverse and ically consisting of the author's name (if known), the many are too complex for all to be treated according to title of the book or serial, and the date of publication. a single uniform pattern. The longer ones, however, usu- When the sources discussed in the last section are ally contain all or most of the following elements: origin quoted, however, the usual shortened form of attribu- and development of the usage with examples, origin and tion is used. development of criticism of the usage, the contempo- We have not italicized the word or construction being rary status of the usage with examples, review of alter- natives, summary and recommendation. The order and illustrated in a quotation, so that the typographic con- ventions of each passage as we found it can be repro- proportion of the elements vary with the requirements duced with reasonable accuracy. We have tried not to of the topic, of course. interfere with spelling. If the editor of an old work cited in a modern edition modernized the spelling, we have used it; if the editor preserved the old spelling, we have Citation of Sources used that. We have only very rarely modernized spelling on our own and then only to make old words more eas- Sources cited within the text of an article—as distinct ily recognizable. We have, however, silently corrected a from illustrative quotations, discussed below—are han- few typographical errors irrelevant to the matter under dled in two different ways. Works cited infrequently are discussion. identified at each appearance by author, title, and date Quotations have been dated, insofar as possible, in of publication. Works cited frequently are treated in a order to establish the antiquity of a locution or its cur- different way, in order to conserve space. References to rency at some particular time or to show when an unfa- these works—chiefly books of commentary on English miliar writer was working. As a reader you can generally usage, handbooks for writers of various kinds, gram- assume that any quotation from the last fifty years or so mars, and dictionaries—take a shortened form, most represents current usage—editors have frequently pre- often the author's last name and the date of the book's ferred a clear older quotation to an ambiguous or publication (as Fowler 1926 or Bolinger 1980). This unhelpful newer one. form of attribution has conveniently allowed us to refer The date given for a work that has passed through either to author or to work as the discourse requires. several editions is, in general, the date of the edition The context will always make clear which reference is actually seen by us. Exceptions are made for famous intended. works of earlier periods, for which the date is usually Handbooks and dictionaries cited as sources of usage that of original publication, even though we may have opinion may instead be cited by an identifying element consulted a modern edition. This policy has inevitably 5a 6a Explanatory Notes led to some inconsistencies that the observant reader throughout the book. These may take any of several may notice between our dates and those given by other forms. If the term where the discussion is located is sources. These are most likely with old works (as the mentioned within the text, a parenthetical "(which see)" poems of Chaucer or the plays of Shakespeare) for is placed immediately after the term. All other cross-ref- which we may have used one conventional set of dates erences are in small capital letters; they may appear at while an older reference work, such as the Dictionary of the end of an article or section of an article, or they may Americanisms or the Oxford English Dictionary, may receive separate entry: have used a different one. Similar problems are created by different editions of a work. Henry Alford's A Plea good 1. Feel good, feel well.... for the Queen's English, for instance, originally appeared See also FEEL BAD, FEEL BADLY. in 1864. Our copy is the American edition of 1866. under the circumstances See CIRCUMSTANCES. Some usage commentators may refer to the earlier edi- tion and others to the later; you may thus find his name No separate entry is made, however, if it would fall with 1864 in one place and 1866 in another. immediately before or after the article where the discus- We have taken a few liberties with the sources of quo- sion is located. Thus, the misspelling quandry is dis- tations, generally omitting initial the when it is part of cussed at quandary, but no entry for the former appears. the title of a periodical, and abbreviating supplement, magazine, journal, and review. Short titles like Robin- son Crusoe and Tom Sawyer are used for a few well- Pronunciation known works. Articles on problems of pronunciation necessarily include pronunciation respellings. The symbols used in Cross-Reference these respellings are essentially those of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and are explained on the Directional cross-references to articles where relevant Pronunciation Symbols page, which faces the first page discussion may be found are employed liberally of the dictionary.

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