Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: entomology; etymology.

entomology; etymology. “Entomology” is the study of insects. “Etymology” is the study of word origins or, more usually, the derivation of a given word. The two words are occasionally confounded — e.g.: o “Fly fishermen must also study the etymology [read ‘entomology’] of insects, what they [read ‘insects’] look like, how they move, so they can mimic them.” Marianne Costantinou, “Reel-Life Story with a Cast of Thousands,” S.F. Examiner, 31 May 1999, at A12. (Besides the usage error, this buggy sentence also contains a latent redundancy [“entomology of insects”] and an ambiguity [“they” with two possible antecedents].) o “To begin, one should go to the root entomology [omit “root,” read ‘etymology’] of the words.” Michael Storey, “Otus the Cat Head,” Ark. Democrat-Gaz., 14 Oct. 2000, at E3. (“Root etymology” is redundant.) For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. —————————- Quotation of the Day: “An alphabet seems the most natural thing in the world to children who play with ABC bricks, but all my life I have been ready to be betrayed into large enthusiasm about the ‘miracle’ of its invention, placing it high above television, jet propulsion, and nuclear fission. It is clever enough to be able to record and reproduce by electronic means the sounds our mouths utter, but the conversion of speech into impulses and impulses back into speech cannot, I like to think, match the fundamental achievement of converting the temporal into the spatial — for speech works in time, but letters stand in space.” Anthony Burgess, A Mouthful of Air 118 (1992). – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
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