Partridge India Writing Tips| Misused Words and Ideas

Jan 11

There are certain terms and concepts that have been thrown around in the media that are heavily misused or applied, in ways contrary to actual meanings and definitions. There is a wide variety terms, concepts, and quotes that have been misused throughout written English. While there are far too many such words and phrases to list in one entry, Partridge India hopes to clarify some of the more commonly misused words.


Machiavelli– few names and ideas have been as misused as Niccolo Machiavelli and his ideas on ruling. His most infamous teaching was that it was ‘safer’ to be feared than to be loved. What is often not included is the forbiddance from being loathed, for hate is the greatest threat to fear. This is endemic of the misuse of Machiavelli’s name and teachings. His name has become synonymous with ruthless plotting, deceit, and manipulation. When in truth Machiavelli argued for practicality, pragmatism, and good sense in rulers. It is easier to be feared than to be loved as a ruler, but it is impossible to rule well when hated.


Misused WordsLiterally– too often ‘literally’ is used as an emphasis, such as “I am literally dead tired from that run.” For a statement to be literal, the situation or instance described should match the statement in the most basic, often physical, sense of the words used. No metaphors, exaggeration, simile, or idioms, the most basic reality as described in the literal statement. The word ‘practically’ is also often misused in the same way as literally.


Irregardless– irregardless is not a word. Sentences that use irregardless, can often properly use regardless. There are quite a few words and phrases that are used, despite the fact that they are actually incorrect versions of words and phrases.


Affect/Effect– Two words that are often used together but also often used incorrectly are ‘affect’ and ‘effect.’ For absolute clarity, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. Something can have an effect because it affects other things.


For All Intensive Purposes– is a phrase often used to establish one thing is the same as another. Unfortunately the words used in this way are incorrect. The correct words are “For all intents and purposes.”



Partridge India trusts this helps

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By Ian Smith

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