Feral Peeves

Lord only knows that the English Language, in all its magisterial glory, can be a stone bitch to deal with, but I have completely lost sympathy with its too abundant victims.

How many times in the last year have I seen someone "pouring" over difficult subject material? Too damn many. The root word is "pore", so when you study hard, you are "poring". How hard can it be?

Another tooth-gnasher, trying to "reign in" an unwanted trend or activity. I've seen it in freaking Newsweek, folks. THIS is journalistic accreditation in action? It should be "reining in", as with cowboys and their horsies.

Drifting around the net, I've seen "taking hold of the reigns of power", "reins of terror", and "her reining majesty".

Grrrr. That last sounds like a B&D club.

Worst of the lot, in my book, is the loss of the distinction between "jibe" and "jive".

One detective might say to another, "The facts just don't jibe, Joe." and he would be perfectly correct to do so. What he wouldn't say is "Y'know Friday, this whole thing just doesn't jive".

You want jive? Think Barbara Billingsley translating in "Airplane". "I speak Jive."

"Sheee-it!" equals "Golly!", remember?

Or, more technically: Jive

NOUN: Jazz or swing music.
The jargon of jazz musicians and enthusiasts.

Slang: Deceptive, nonsensical, or glib talk: "the sexist, locker-room jive of men boasting and bonding".

VERB: jived , jiv·ing , jives

VERB:To play or dance to jive music.

Slang:To talk nonsense; to kid.
To talk or chat: "You just jive in one big group, putting each other on, trying to top the last line".

VERB: Slang

To cajole or mislead.


Misleading; phony.

It's got absolutely nothing to do with "jibe". They just sound alike. Kind of.

It's rather like confusing "cache" and "cachet".

posted by Justin on 02.25.05 at 02:01 PM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Feral Peeves:

» New fissures in the annals of science! from Classical Values
As regular readers know, I try to keep my non-blog life out of this blog to the extent possible. But considering the scientific posts which keep cropping up on this blog lately, I thought interested readers might enjoy knowing that... [Read More]
Tracked on April 15, 2005 4:02 PM


Or how about "tow the line." Where's the pugilistic sense in that? Or "the line was taunt." You taunt somebody but lines are taut.

I've all but given up on the homonyms, though I've finally found a good explanation for those who don't understand that "it's" is not possessive: the use of 's to denote possession is only used with proper nouns such as Justin. "Its" is in company with "his" and "hers." He, him, his; she, her, hers; it, it, its. Of course, they don't *teach* grammar anymore; I have a friend who teaches remedial seventh grade and though she teaches grammar, she has to explain to them "subject" and "verb." They are nowhere near "preposition" or "dependent clause."

B. Durbin   ·  February 25, 2005 2:02 PM

Sorry about the 'cache,' guys, I should have said 'meme' or something, but I was in a hurry to get some cachet from the bank before it closed...um, I mean get some cache...to buy a potatoe...oh, never mind...

Hope I'm not overdrawn on the cachet, or my social life will suffer big-time...

Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 2:02 PM

Durban: when the bearded guy on Monty Python says "It's," is it spelled with an apostroph'e?

Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 2:06 PM

My own pet peeve: "utilize."

Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 2:06 PM

And don't forget the ever-popular mute point.

triticale   ·  February 25, 2005 4:15 PM

Is that a point you make in sign-language?

Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 4:28 PM

Navel and naval -- all these little navels with sailor hats setting out to sea.

And the ever popular capital and capitol. When someone rides through the capitol of the country, does someone go after with a mop cleaning?

Then there's the unspeakable your instead of you're...


Portia   ·  February 25, 2005 4:57 PM

Your to rite Portia!

Nice save,Mr. Bee.

Barbara, perhaps one day we shall see "a tough roe to ho". I imagine it would be a lurid tale of marketing problems in the sturgeon sex-trade.
Lurking in the shadows, we might catch a glimpse of the sinister sturgeon crime lord and caviar pimp known as Uncle "Milty"...

Forgive me.

So, how about those fellas who tell you the main tenants of their philosophy?

J. Case   ·  February 25, 2005 6:37 PM

A mute point is part of a "mute testimony", and therefore, inarguably, part of a Jacques Cousteau TV special.

J. Case   ·  February 25, 2005 6:43 PM

There's a website cataloguing these now, at . Enjoy!

Aaron Davies   ·  February 25, 2005 11:17 PM

Two of my favorites are "renown" instead of "renowned".

EssEm   ·  February 26, 2005 12:54 PM

With this post you are dividing people into two discrete groups. Is that any way to be discreet?

BTW, your old stationery has been stationary for too long sir!

J.C.'s former personal secretary   ·  February 26, 2005 6:07 PM

One that really gripes me, because I'm obnoxious, is the use of "flounder" for "founder". I know I can't win.

But horses and boats founder, the latter becoming undirectable and batted about by waves. What does a flounder do? It flounders around on the bottom of the sea doing what it wants and should.

J. Peden   ·  February 28, 2005 2:12 AM

That last comment sounds like Eric wrote it. His style.

My own personal pet peeve linguistically is when people think "literally" means figuratively. What word, then, are we supposed to use to mean literally? As in: "I know the Bible is the Word of God because every word in it is literally true." The style of that.

By "that last comment" I was referring to the one about stationary stationery and discrete discretion.

Steven, you're almost half right, and I think you may be getting psychic.

Eric Scheie   ·  February 28, 2005 1:15 PM

I don't know the bearded guy too well, but if that is all he says then I would suppose that "it's" is the proper spelling... unless there's some context I'm not aware of.

The Larch.

B. Durbin   ·  February 28, 2005 1:50 PM

While you're "pouring" over these comments, why don't you "reign in" Eric and tell him there's no such word as "quandry"?

One of my personal peeves I've been seeing far too often.

Alan S.   ·  March 3, 2005 1:07 PM

Justin would probably be afraid I'd challenge him to a dual!

And Alan, things are worse than you imagined. If you thought "quandry" was an annoying error in spelling, check out these books . . .

In time, this could lead to a quandary quandry.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 15, 2005 2:05 PM

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits