Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Amo, Amas, Among?

Woman Shpping
Graphic courtesy of freeimages.com
August has arrived in full toasty glory, dearies. There were whispers of a relatively mild high of 102 degrees, but the glare from the outdoor thermometer prevented verification. As the heat is causing my tomato blossoms to pop off of the plants, I’m inspired to post a pop quiz. Leave your bens and grab your pens!

1. Between or among? Which word is used to denote an undefined relationship?
2. Censer or censor? Which one seeks to suppress?
3. Flaunt or flout? Which one might get you arrested?
4. Illegible or unreadable? Which is the lesser of two ‘writerly’ evils?
5. Staunch or stanch? Which one describes the purpose of a tourniquet?

Pens down, if you please. It’s time to see just how well you’ve done. Admirably, I expect; I have yet to be disappointed in any of you.

1. Among. When discussing collective or undefined relationships, among is the proper choice. Civility among shoppers flies out the window if the discount is steep enough. If the relationship is one-on-one, between is appropriate. Between you and me, those shoes are hideous. And according to the CMOS, amongst anything is a no-no.
2. Censor. While a censer is used to waft incense, a censor is prevailed upon to filter out objectionable language, scenes, or anything else that may not sit well with the powers that be. Of course, if the manuscript that crosses your desk truly stinks, you may need a censer as well.
3. Flout. It may be fun to flaunt your style sense with that fabulous new coat, but it isn’t wise to acquire it by flouting the law and stooping to theft.
4. Illegible. Having handwriting so terrible as to be illegible is one thing; writing that is rendered unreadable by being “incomprehensible or intolerably dull” is quite another.
5. Stanch. I am a staunch supporter of healthy levels of hemoglobin, which is why I took great pains to stanch the blood flow when I accidentally punctured myself with a buttonhook last week.

And there you are! Quick and painless, unlike a typical Midwestern summer. Ah, well. It’s a good thing that so many charming outfits are being made with cotton nowadays; polyester could be considered a crime against humanity in some climates. Speaking of cotton, I hear my loom calling. There are new dish towels to be woven, and so I’ll leave you to your day. Wear something light, drink plenty of water, and remember: a well-turned phrase is always in style!

Photo courtesy of Darrick Bartholomew

Having discovered that her green thumb was due to an overtight ring, the Style Maven is resigned to the fact that she will have to procure garden-fresh produce from someone else's garden. You can follow her continuing adventures as The Procraftinator at kofo.com.


  1. I had the stanch/staunch dilemma when working on a manuscript, since I'd seen it both ways in books I'd read. I looked up both. I found that "see also" and "or" sent me to the other one in both cases. It'll be one of those words where half your readers will think you got it wrong no matter which you choose.

    1. Good point, Terry. I had seen it wrong so many times, I missed this one on the quiz. :-)

    2. Or, you got it right because both definitions seem to be 'acceptable' according to all the places I looked.

  2. This is a good list to keep handy.

  3. So glad to have you back Style Maven, and I do hope there are no polyesters adding to your discomfort in this wretched heat. Dare I say out loud that we have not had wretched heat in my little corner of Texas yet this summer.

  4. It's been pushing toward 100 here in Colorado, so I'm quite pleased to have lots of cotton items in my closet.

    The interchange between Maryann and Terry raises an interesting point: sometimes when you go to great lengths to use the right word, you can't win because lots of folks think you're wrong. Don't we just love the English language? :-)

    1. 12°C for us today :-/ But my garden is springing...

  5. I hate to sound like a coward, but when I'm unsure of a word, or if there's controversy in its definition, I change to another word.

  6. Hooray, I got them all right, although I did get stuck on the staunch/stanch thing, since I've seen both spellings being used for both definitions in various books. I always assumed they were the same word but with different spellings, much like 'recognise' and 'recognize'.

    I do agree that changing a word can be better if there is large debate over its use, spelling or definition. I don't think it's cowardly. Just wiser to avoid the wrath of some overtly passionate people.

    I have recently come across a debate over the use of a comma before the word 'or'. Quite amusing.

    I wish it was easier to find pure cotton clothes where I'm at. Everything's made in China or India and tends to be a blend of synthetic and cotton. Anyway, sticking with wool for now since it's still winter over here.


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