“Jive” and “Jibe”

My error sensor went off when I read the following on a gardening site: “I don’t know how that will jive with you[r] rose foliage, which depends on what you personally like.”

Choosing Books

Some professional educators will tell parents, “It doesn’t matter what they read, as long as they are reading.” Not true. Children are like computers: Garbage In, Garbage Out. I would not forbid a child to read a book written at his mental level, but I would make a point of reading it myself so that […]

Shutter and Shudder

So far I’ve found it only in amateur blogs, fan fiction, and forum comments, but there does seem to be a creeping tendency for some English speakers to confuse the words shutter /[shuht-er/ and shudderĀ /shuhd-er/ in writing. she threw her arms around his neck, emotion shuttering through her. There was a sickness right in the […]


In American usage, Wednesday is the fourth day of the week. School children must work a little harder to learn to spell the name because it is pronounced Wens-day, but spelled Wed-nes-day. The reason for the spelling is that the word combines the Old English possessive form of Woden with the noun for day: Wodnesdaeg, […]

To Fawn Over

The verb “to fawn,” meaning “to show delight or fondness like a dog” is not related to the word for a young deer. Old English had the adjective faegen, meaning “glad.”

One Putto, two Putti

Somehow it seems inappropriate to refer to the little winged boys in paintings of Christian saints as “cupids.”