Wednesday Wordplay: mangled words and John Wayne


words often mangled or misused

As a kid, did you ever dread being sent to the principle’s office?  Or have you ever asked someone to be discrete with delicate information you’ve given them? 

English is a Rubick’s cube of confusing possibilities. Here are a few of the most famous word mangles and mix-ups:

cache / cachet

Cache, “a hidden store,” is sometimes confused with cachet, “prestige, appeal.” Both words come from French, but cache is pronounced like “cash,” while cachetrhymes with “sashay.” The confusion may be encouraged because we often don’t write final accents for words borrowed from French like resume andprotege, so people may mistakenly think that cache is one of these words ending in an “ay” sound. Cachet is one of these “-ay” words, but one that ends in –et, like cabaret.


pore / pour

When you read something closely, you pore over it. You only pour over something if you are dumping a liquid on it. It may seem to some that they are pouring their attention or vision over something they are reading, and this metaphor encourages the confusion.


shined / shone

Shine is one of those “strong verbs” that had an irregular past tense and past participle (shone) but later acquired a regular form ending in –ed as well. Some people use the forms interchangeably, but there is a pattern that most people follow to keep them distinct. Shined takes a personal subject and an object: I shined the flashlight at the bear. Shone is used of light sources and does not take an object: The moon shone over the harbor.


enervate / energize

Many people believe that enervate is a synonym of energize, but in fact the words are antonyms. Enervate means “to deprive of energy or vitality.” This is because enervate comes ultimately from Latin nervus, “sinew,” and means literally “to cause to be without sinews,” that is, “to weaken.” Ancient and medieval anatomists could not distinguish the white fibers of sinews or tendons from those of nerves, and the word nerve was once used for both things.


Motivational Quotes



All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
           — Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Strength to Love,’ 1963

A mother only does her children harm if she makes them the only concern of her life.
           — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge, 1943


The best way to realize the pleasure of feeling rich is to live in a smaller house than your means would entitle you to have.
            — Edward Clarke


arnold palmer 

Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.
            — Arnold Palmer


Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters..
            — Samuel Johnson


Storms make oaks take deeper root..
            — George Herbert


If you really want to do something, you do it. You don’t save it for a sound bite.
            — Liz Friedman, House M.D., Hunting, 2005


John Wayne 

Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.
            — John Wayne