Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

January 18, 2004|By Michael Pakenham

Words You Thought You Knew ... 1001 Commonly Misused and Misunderstood Words and Phrases, by Jenna Glatzer. Adams Media. 310 pages. $8.95.

Glatzer has specialized in counseling her fellow free-lance writers, two books and in periodicals. Here, she puts together a useful, brightly presented set of admonitions to use language correctly with emphasis on errors that have become cliches. It's "champing at the bit," not "chomping." And she straightens out the "lay / lie" muddlement nicely and precisely. She's fiercely derisive of anyone who commits the "could care less" crime against both the ear and reason. A very substantial number of the entries are so basic that anyone who needs be instructed or reminded of the meaning or a distinction is doubtful to be a reader at all: "pray / prey," "avenge / revenge," "bald-faced / bold-faced." But in an era in which laziness in language is pandemic, there is both usefulness and persuasiveness enough here to make it valuable.

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