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

Miscellaneous Entries. workers’ compensation; workmen’s compensation. These words contain a plural possessive, hence “workers'” and “workmen’s” — not “worker’s” and “workman’s.” “Workers’ compensation” now predominates, doubtless because of a sensitivity to the sexism of the other. Another erroneous form is *”workers compensation.” workforce; workload. Each is one word. working. Radio announcers throughout the Southwest commonly say that an accident is “working” at (say) Walnut Hill and Preston Road. What they apparently mean is that a police officer or an emergency crew is at the scene and working to clear the way. The usage seems to have originated in police jargon. working class denotes “the class of people who work for wages to earn a living.” The term usually refers to manual laborers and is often used pejoratively. But even doctors, lawyers, and the like work for a living. So where does the phrase come from? Originally, “working class” was used in contrast to “leisure class” — people who, because of their independent means, can while away their time. But the leisure class is now virtually nonexistent. And although “working class” doesn’t make much literal sense anymore, it’s probably here to stay as a close synonym for “proletariat.” workout, n.; work out, v.i. & v.t. Although the noun is one word {a good workout}, the verb should be two — e.g.: “The Longhorns will workout [read ‘work out’] once today, at 4:35 p.m.” “Extra Points,” Austin Am.-Statesman, 22 Aug. 1995, at C3. workplace; worksite; workstation. Each is one word. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “This is the usual destiny of euphemisms; in order to avoid the real name of what is thought indecent or improper people use some innocent word. But when that becomes habitual in this sense it becomes just as objectionable as the word it has ousted and now is rejected in its turn.” Otto Jespersen, Growth and Structure of the English Language 258 (9th ed. 1938).
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