Saturday 5 June 2010

Howlers for June

Tim Wonnacott and his bouffanté hairstyle

They look alike, they sound alike and they mean something entirely different.

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.

assay for essay Gordon Brown has been assayed by a surprising number of actors G May 12 10 When you essay a role you give it your best shot; you assay gold to see if it is genuine.

astronaughts for astronauts (Web)

blithe to for innocent of? a woman over 25 blithe to the rigours of botox Obs Nov 22 09 Blithe means happy. What are they trying to say? Innocent of botox? Why the “rigours of” botox?
boarding for bordering boarding on painful (Web)

bouffanté for bouffant Tim Wonnacott on Bargain Hunt February 9, 2010

carnage for damage A resident of New Orleans surveys the carnage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina G Dec 2009 People think it means wreckage: it means “1.Massive slaughter, as in war; a massacre. 2. Corpses, especially of those killed in battle.”

claque for clique David Aaronovitch Nov 09 A claque is a group of hired applauders; a clique is a closed set of cronies.

confessional for confession (it’s the box where you make your confession)

cut a caper for cut a figure cut a similarly impressive caper Daily Telegraph Nov 09 To cut a caper is to perform a tricky and acrobatic dance step. To cut a figure, or cut a dash, is to make an impression. He cut quite a figure – from a cut-out paper silhouette?

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”).

despoil for disfigure (It doesn’t mean “spoil” it means “remove loot”.)

diamonties, diamontee for diamanté (but you may have to misspell them if you want to buy them on the internet)

eschew for reject or waive (it means avoid)

fanfair for fanfare

furmulative for formative (Web – his furmulative years)

hymnal for hymn (it’s a hymn book)

innate for inane The most vapid, smug and innate commentary that has come out of the “village” for some time. Jonathan Zasloff UCLA

issue in for usher in

Katharine of Aragorn for Katharine of Aragon She came from Aragon in Spain and was no relation to the Lord of the Rings character.

Long and drawn out for long-drawn-out Long-drawn-out means it was drawn out for a long time but everybody says “long and drawn-out” now.

lush for parched Greek desert island described as “craggy and lush” in Times Mar 5 – it’s definitely parched, not lush

novist for novice (Web)

novitiate for novice (it’s the condition of being a novice)

plumb the truth for plumb the depths (find out how deep they are by dropping a plumb line)

prancing for posturing

quotient for quota The rear seats are unsuitable for humans with the usual quotient of limbs Daily Telegraph April 10

reeling from for suffering under or enduring

reign in for rein in high time these parasites were reigned in Times Dec 09. Monarchs reign, you control a horse with reins.

reside for preside Whatever Kingdom she resides over, please tell me so I can avoid it.

roll call for roll (you do a roll call by reading the names off a roll)

secede for cede “seceding political and economic control” Guardian Nov 14 09

short shrift for short work Asteroid made short shrift of the dinosaurs

slather for slaver Times Sept 09 09 “slather like kids in a sweetie shop”

slightless for slightest It doesn’t suit her in the slightless! Timesonline commenter on Mariah Carey’s Oscar dress, April 2010

slipshod for roughshod It’s sad that they’re going to run slipshod over this lovely road. Person quoted in 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.

spiral for rise Don Justo has been defying all laws of gravity and health and safety – for 50 years to build his spiralling, surreal cathedral outside Madrid Guardian cap Mar 31 10 Perhaps people think “spiralling” (as in inflation) means “going up and up like a spire”. Don’t they know what a spiral is? Have they never seen a spiral staircase or bedspring?

stultifying for stifling David Cameron says health and safety causes a “stultifying blanket of bureaucracy, suspicion and fear” A thick blanket would make it difficult to breathe – but it wouldn’t make you stupid.

the ploy thickens for the plot thickens – Guardian

the stuff of legend for legendary (If something’s the stuff of legend it could become a legend; if it’s legendary it already is a legend.)

the writing is on the wally (Web)

virtual circle for virtuous

vulpine for lupine: Last year Taylor Lautner revealed his true colours in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, assisted by CGI effects that instantaneously transformed the teenage hunk into a vulpine beast. (That would make him a were-fox.)

winnow for worm He winnowed his way into her heart.

wolverine for wolfish "I just like to write about pervert killers with wolverine teeth". James Ellroy, Nov 09 Think he means "wolfish".

More here, here, here, here and here.

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