Mistaken Word Identity

Hello.  How has your life been these days?  Mine has been hectic.  On top of trying to find work to pay for my career as an author, moving to a new state, and writing, my computer is still pretty broken.  It won’t even open Firefox anymore, which sucks because I am used to using it as my browser.  I even tried uninstalling and reinstalling it.  No luck.  Can you even break a web browser?  Apparently I can.  I am that kind of special snowflake.

Anyway, I was on a plane for reasons, and I was reading a book.  The book was called Supernaturally.  It is the sequel to the book, Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White.  The first book had a unique enough premise, so I thought I’d read the second.  That’s usually how things go.  The problem is, the second book left me with kind of a bad taste in my mouth.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible.  It’s pretty standard for the new Young Adult Paranormal Romance genre that is all the rage these days, and that I, myself, write for.  The thing is…I don’t know.  It just wasn’t for me.  One of the big problems, the one I wanted to talk quickly about, was that I think the author used a word incorrectly.  I know this shouldn’t be a big deal, but it really pulls me out of the book when I see a word used to mean its exact opposite.

So we’re going to do the Words of the Day a little early here.

Nonplussed (adj) DOES mean: utterly perplexed; completely puzzled.

It DOES NOT mean: Unfazed.  Cool.  Calm.  Unaffected.

That one gets misused a lot, because it sounds like it should mean what it doesn’t.  I will add the disclaimer that White might have been using it correctly.  The character could have either been confused or nonchalant, but I got the impression he fell into the latter category, in which case “nonplussed” was the wrong word to use.

This happened to me one other time, a while back when I tried to read a book called Tithe by Holly Black.  She used the word “enervate” to mean its exact opposite and I just kinda lost a few respect points for the author.  “Enervate” is another word that sounds like it should mean its opposite.

Enervate (v) DOES mean: to deprive of force or strength; destroy the vigor of; weaken.

It DOES NOT mean: To energize.  Give energy to.  Fill with life.

It just sounds like it’s supposed to mean that.

Watch out for those words, and others like it.  Just a helpful hint.  I’ve got another post for you about my recent editing process for Hellbound, so look out for that soon!  Hopefully with pictures.  (Dare I risk plugging in my tablet?)

Word of the Day (even though I already gave you two): Lugubrious (adj) – mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.



Filed under books, Grammar, Humor, writing

3 responses to “Mistaken Word Identity

  1. Those two words always give me trouble – thanks for the reminder. I get hung up on things like that when reading as well. Sometimes the book isn’t good enough to overcome whatever irks me, so I quit reading it.

    • Yeah, I managed to get through Supernaturally on the plane, but I won’t be buying the next book in the series. As for Tithe, the book was pretty poorly written in general, so I stopped reading.

  2. There’s another word that escapes me at the moment because I’m tired, and it also means the opposite of how it looks. I’ll think of it in the middle of the night and jump back on here.

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