Wednesday 30 December 2009

13 Howlers from 2009

a cloud-clapped kingdom A cloud-capped kingdom would also be nonsensical – the cloud-capped towers (as Shakespeare wrote) are so tall they’re wearing clouds as hats.

a woman over 25 blithe to the rigours of botox Observer Nov 22 09 Blithe means happy. What are they trying to say? Innocent of botox? Why the “rigours of” botox?

ambient for atmospheric "What an ambient shot!" Ambient means surrounding. If you say something’s “atmospheric” you mean it calls up ideas and feelings of mystery or menace or the uncanny.

astronaughts for astronauts (Web)

caper for figure "cut a similarly impressive caper" Daily Telegraph Nov 09 To cut a caper is to perform a tricky and acrobatic dance step.

claque for clique David Aaronovitch Nov 09 A claque is a gang of hired applauders; a clique is a small, exclusive, self-interested group.

cut to the quick for cut to the chase Let us cut to the quick here. Times Oct 30 09 In early silent movies, you didn’t want to bore your audience, so you cut to the chase (car chase, cowboys on horseback etc). “Cut to the chase” means “come to the point”. If you cut someone to the quick it’s like cutting through the bark to the living tree (quick means “alive”).

pink elephant for elephant It’s not good to have a pink elephant in the room. Web The writer is confused between “the elephant in the room” that nobody mentions and “pink elephants” seen by sufferers from delirium tremens.

slipshod for roughshod It’s sad that they’re going to run slipshod over this lovely road. Person quoted in the Times Oct 27 09 If you ride roughshod over something, you’re trampling over them on a horse with heavy iron shoes. Somebody slipshod is wearing only backless slippers on their feet and is forced to shuffle about. A slipshod approach is sloppy and ill-thought-out.

slather for slaver “slather like kids in a sweetie shop” Times Sept 09 09 Beasts slaver over their prey (they have no manners); you slather paint onto a wall.

smited for slighted, dappy for daffy Andrew Billen, Times Nov 21 09

virtual circle for virtuous A virtual circle would be almost a circle; a virtuous circle is the opposite of a vicious circle, which is a feedback loop of bad consequences.
wolverine for wolfish "I just like to write about pervert killers with wolverine teeth". James Ellroy, Nov 09 A wolverine is a large weasel relative that lives in the Arctic Circle.

And more here, here, here, here and here.

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