Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. widespread was, until the early 20th century, spelled as two words, but now it should always be one. widow, n.; widower. A “widow” is a woman whose spouse has died; a “widower” is a man similarly bereft. Do the terms still apply when the surviving spouse remarries? No. widow, vb., can make a past-participial adjective “widowed,” which may apply to either sex. Although “widowed man” may seem unnatural, it is common and unobjectionable — e.g.: “Schmidt himself is no less persnickety; once widowed, he asks his daughter . . . to tend him, telling her precisely how to make his lunch as if instructing troops in the loading of a gun.” Anthony Lane, “Looking Back,” New Yorker, 16 Dec. 2002, at 106. widow; orphan. These words have special meaning in the terminology of typesetting and word processing. A “widow” is a paragraph’s last line that is separated from the paragraph by a page break and carried over to the top of the following page. An orphan is a paragraph’s first line that is similarly separated and left behind at the bottom of the preceding page. Most word-processing software packages have a feature called “widow/orphan protect” or something similar; you should use this feature so you won’t carelessly leave any widows or orphans in an unsightly lurch. wield; weald. The former is the verb meaning “to control; handle; hold and use” {he wields his power with good judgment}. The latter is the noun meaning “a forest” or “an uncultivated upland region.” wife. The plural is “wives.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “There can be no language in the world that has such potential for euphony along with cacophony as has English; its music ranges from cadences and vowel harmonies and expressive consonants down to grunts and cackles.” Basil Cottle, The Plight of English 35 (1975).
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