English Usage Fuckeuppes

Is there anything more painful than the use of “infer” to mean “imply”? When someone says, “My statement didn’t infer what you claim it did”, I want to murder a billion kittens to slake my uncontrollable rage.


  1. atheist says

    You would hope that people who have decided to show off their education by using words like “infer” would at least look up “infer” in a dictionary and get its real definition before using it. But I guess you would be disappointed.

  2. ShowMetheData says

    For me it is Complement / Compliment
    As a reader of many basketball trade discussions on blogs, it’s littered with possible player acquisitions who might compliment rather than complement the team.

  3. iGrrrl says

    That one, yes, and “comprised of” gets me. These things comprise the whole, which is composed of these things.

    Also, less and fewer, but I’m sure to lose that by usage and time. Less of a continuum fewer discreet things. If you have less ice cream, you can dip fewer cones.

    And don’t even get me started on the compound modifier.

  4. Francisco Bacopa says

    And this one is so easy to keep straight: Minds infer. Statements imply.

    Sometimes I come across a confusion between abstruse/obtuse. Again, things are abstruse, people are obtuse, generally.

    There’s a right-wing radio host I used to listen to who uses “recant” for “recount” as in “I can’t recant exactly what I said.” Well no, you probably don’t want to recant what you said, but I think you meant to say “recount”.

  5. AsqJames says


    “I’ll be with you momentarily,” from someone you’re waiting to be served by. What if my service requires more than a moment of your time? Why not say “I’ll be with you in a moment”? Or “I’ll just be a moment”?

    Now the guy behind the counter in a shop/fast food joint/whatever isn’t employed for his/her facility with language, so if the meaning is conveyed and the service is otherwise good, who cares? Only a particularly obnoxious pedant would get annoyed about it, much less prove himself an utter arse by pointing it out.

    But increasingly I hear/read it from professional journalists, and that’s when I wish journalism still thought people like Jay Spry were important.

  6. magicmandoneit says

    The number of people who change their tact instead of their tack is annoying to say the least. There are also quite a few loosers who are a little too lose with their language, if you know what I mean.

  7. atheist says

    Honestly though, the folks I work with make so many errors of spelling, punctuation, word meaning, grammar, capitalization etc. etc. Over the years I have become all but inured to language errors. If I can understand I mentally fix it, if not I ask for explanation.

  8. rdmcpeek43 says

    Lie and lay; taught in 5th grade (but obviously not always
    learned). This is not exactly pedantic material.

  9. says

    I could nailed a dozen rusty nails through someone’s dick everytime I read something like “We removed the surrounding tissue in order to visualize the vessel…”

  10. says

    Not much. My most recent peeve is “straight” for “strait.” A straitjacket is binding. A straight jacket is unfitted, that is, without darts.

    What I really can’t stand is subject pronouns as objects of verbs or prepositions: “Between you and I,” “That really angered my wife and I.” Honestly, I prefer objects as subjects, as in “Me and her went shopping.” I guess it’s because I prefer straight-up ignorance to incorrect over-correction.

  11. Lithified Detritus says

    While I share the Proffe’s feelings on this, I find it odd coming from someone who went fucken apeshitte when a writer suggested that a published article should get people’s names right.

  12. sailor1031 says

    Fukken morons, on NPR and elsewhere, who say “beg the question” when they mean “pose the question”.

  13. eeke says

    Not grammatically incorrect, but I don’t care for the words “whilst” and “utilize”. They’re both pretentious.

  14. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    Sure are a lot of people getting inordinately worked up about pointless, arbitrary nonsense in here. Besides in places where it actually helps clarify meaning, grammar is bullshit. When it’s two words with vastly different meanings being mistaken for one another, like in Proffe’s OP, that’s one thing. When we’re talking about the difference between “lay” and “lie”, or between “abstruse” and “obtuse”, though? Fuck that, and fuck you for caring about it.

    If anything, language is exclusively defined by consensus. Meaning that when you correct a commonly-used “grammar mistake”, you are in fact the one who is wrong. Language doesn’t actually exist, and words don’t actually mean anything*; we just like to pretend it does so that we can communicate. Quibbling about a distinction that does not help with communication is nothing but abject pedantic assholery, and often incredibly classist and pretentious to boot. “Me and my dog will kick your ass for being a smug prick” is not less correct than “My dog and I will kick your ass for being a smug prick”, as it is no more difficult to understand, and just as readily recognized by everyone involved as holding exactly the same meaning. These are not terms of art that require strict meanings for absolute clarity. They are arbitrarily delineated pronouns. Our language would not suffer in the slightest if we only ever used “I” or “Me” in all instances, and the other word had never existed. Only cultural inertia makes anyone give a good golly goddamn. Only elitism and classism makes anyone feel the need to “correct” anyone else in their use. It serves no purpose besides to mark oneself as “better” than someone else for utterly arbitrary reasons.

    Stop it.

    *This is not to say that one should go around spouting racial/gender/ethnic/whatever slurs or any other nonsense like that. That they are inherently meaningless does not change that society has collectively decided that they have negative, harmful meanings. Their historical usage of communicating hatred has poisoned them, and until that history is forgotten, they should be avoided.

  15. sailor1031 says

    Well there’s always “coupe de gras” (cup of grease) instead of “coup de grace”…….

  16. candide says

    “Mitigate” when they mean “militate” and vice versa
    “Refute” when they mean “deny” : Particularly evil when “refute” suggests a denial is backed by evidence when it’s not.
    Units of measure with the wrong dimensions- “Gigawatts of energy” for example
    “Quantum leap” to refer to big change. “Flaunt” when they mean “flout”. “Exponential growth” to describe significant increase.


    That’s better.

  17. says

    Hmmmm…. With the ‘wrong’ use of infer being attested from M16 (according to OED) and with usage citations from such as Bertrand Russell, I’d say you’re on a hiding to nothing here.

  18. BTownAlways says

    I really, really don’t like it when people say “irregardless”
    George Carlin was really the master of complaining about the misuse of language. I would recommend Brain Droppings for a good long rant on the subject.

  19. says

    Late to the party, but to answer your original question: NO! Unless perhaps it’s people who write “should of” instead of “should have,” or perhaps the younger generation’s tragic incomprehension of the appropriate use of the apostrophe.

  20. says

    Not grammatically incorrect, but I don’t care for the words “whilst” and “utilize”.

    I always say “why use utilize when you can utilize use instead?”

  21. says

    I’m coming in extremely late here, but there’s a little bit of irony with iGrrrl’s misuse of “discreet/discrete”.

    My current peeves are people who don’t know the difference between “phase” and “faze”. Also, anyone who uses the phrase “hone in on”, which seems to be more and more prevalent. I know we don’t use homing pigeons anymore, but come on.

    Don’t even get me started on “could of”.

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