Category: Usage


The mysterious origins of 21 tech terms

We use 21st century tech terms like hashtag, stream, and mouse with casual indifference, but how did these words get to be so commonplace in our everyday vernacular? We know the origins of Superman (kryptonite), Spider Man (radioactive spider), and Batman (rich boy’s revenge) but not “podcast,” “spam,” or even “hacker.” So I looked at 21 common tech terms that have been downloaded into our collective hardware and decoded them.

Read more


but vs. yet

As conjunctions, but and yet are interchangeable. One is often substituted for the other to avoid repetition. Using one or the other in both spots would also create the same meaning, but it might sound repetitive.

Both words also work as adverbs, and in their adverbial senses they are not interchangeable. Yet usually means up to this time, while the adverbial but usually means only. For example, but and yet are not interchangeable.

Source: Grammarist



done vs. finished

When you push back from the Thanksgiving table and say, “I’m done,” a cranky relative may attempt to correct you by replying, “A turkey is done; you’re finished.”

Although done has been used to mean “finished” for centuries, admonitions against it started surfacing in the early 1900s. The first style guide that advised against using done to mean “finished” didn’t give a reason for the declaration, and the current Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage speculates that the advice was based on bias against the usage’s “Irish, Scots and U.S.” origin… continued


The proofreader’s job

By Sebastien Devogele

A proofreader should only correct ‘real’ errors. Any other changes are unnecessary and counterproductive. The proofreader’s preferences don’t matter since he is not writing his own text. In my humble opinion, proofreaders who see things differently haven’t grasped the purpose of their job… continued


Proverbs in pictures

The cat is out of the bag: proverbs sound ridiculous when they’re translated. London-based writer Matt Lindley has become fascinated with how foreign idioms translate into surreal phrases. “A country’s idioms can give us an insight into a culture,” he says. “There’s something slightly ‘other’ about foreign sayings, that reveals quite a different way of thinking.” After Lindley collected the sayings, Edinburgh-based artist Marcus Oakley turned them into illustrations for travel website Hotel Club. “I’m sure English idioms sound really strange to other people,” Lindley says. “Often ones that resonate with different cultures are the ones that are quite far away from the ones they have.” continued