CONTRIBUTOR : Stan Carey

Stan Carey is a scientist turned freelance editor from the west of Ireland. He shares his fascination with language, words and books on his blog, Sentence first, and on Twitter. Stan has a TEFL qualification, a history of polyglottism, and a lifelong love of stories and poetry. He writes articles about the English language for Macmillan Dictionary Blog.
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The Horologicon ("book of hours") is a reference book. Its author, Mark Forsyth (who writes the Inky Fool blog), says so. But it is a very unusual reference book — the kind you could read from cover to cover in an evening or two, and would, willingly and happily. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language, Words
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For years I've been reading the phrase at/in one fell swoop, and even using it occasionally, without ever examining it closely. I knew what it meant ("all at once"), and that it came from Shakespeare, but only recently did I stop and wonder: What's that fell doing there? Continue reading...
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The word hybrid (from Latin hybrida, "mongrel") commonly refers to animals and plants of mixed lineage, and more recently to vehicles with two or more power sources. In linguistic morphology, it refers to a word formed by combining elements that originated in two or more languages. The process is called hybridization. Continue reading...
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A journalist friend on Twitter, Oliver, asked my opinion of ongoing. He said he had been asked to ban it in a style guide, and that he didn't see why. I said I had nothing against it, and that banning it struck me as excessive and unhelpful. Although I sometimes find constructions like ongoing situation and ongoing issue vague or euphemistic, I see no point in prohibiting them outright. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Vocabulary, Words, Usage
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"I don't care how thick he gets, I'm not inviting him!"

I overheard this in Galway recently, and it prompted me to write a few notes on the word thick as it is used in Ireland. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Language, Words, Usage
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This is a strange expression, often heard in the form: “You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face [when X happens].” But what does it mean and where does it come from? Continue reading...
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Stan Carey, a professional editor from Ireland, writes:

We think of balance as a good thing, associating it with poise, equilibrium, evenness and harmony, as stability in unpredictable circumstances or as a healthy mix of disparate elements. It's a versatile metaphor. We try to balance our lives by living a balanced lifestyle, holding balanced views and following, on balance, a balanced diet. We balance work and play, overtime and downtime, business and pleasure. Mostly business: we balance our books, accounts, loans, budgets and balance sheets. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Vocabulary, Words, Usage
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1 2 Displaying 1-7 of 12 Articles