Make sure you're stationary, or still, while you jot down a love letter on your fancy stationery, so the writing isn't all squiggly.
Why do these words sound so similar? They're kissing cousins.They both come from the Latin stationarius, meaning "a seller in a fixed location." Our modern stationary means still, unmovable, like bad weather that lingers or a parked car:
A disturbance in the southwestern Caribbean is expected to remain stationary for the next few days, the National Hurricane Center said. (Sun Sentinel)
Police confirmed an incident at 6.50pm on Sunday, October 17, when a blue Rover collided with a stationary vehicle. (Chesterfield Post)
Stationery (with an "e") also comes from stationarius, but not as directly. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "Roving peddlers were more common in the Middle Ages; sellers with a fixed location were often bookshops licensed by universities," thus the connection between paper and staying still. Today, stationery is writing paper, the kind you put resumes and wedding invitations on:
People sent me Hallmark cards, handwritten notes on lined paper, typed letters on formal stationery, even telegrams. (Time Magazine)
Ms. Staller is the owner of Rosetta Papers, which offers a wide variety of customized invitations, stationery, holiday cards and announcements. (ad for Rosetta Papers)
An easy way to keep stationary and stationery straight is to connect the er in stationery to the paper it's made from.
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