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

Miscellaneous Entries. wry makes the comparative “wrier” and the superlative “wriest” in American English, “wryer” and “wryest” in British English. But in both, the kindred adverb is “wryly.” xebec (= a type of three-masted ship once common in the Mediterranean) is the standard spelling. *”Zebec” and *”zebeck” are variants. x-ed; *x’d; *x’ed; *xed. As the past tense for the verb meaning “to mark with an x, delete,” the first is standard. The others are variant forms. The present participle is preferably “x-ing,” not *”x’ing.” xerox is a registered trademark that is nevertheless used as a common noun {he made a xerox of the document}, an adjective {a xerox copy}, and a verb {to xerox an article}. Sometimes the word is capitalized, but usually not — e.g.: “Several readers xeroxed my Sept. 14 column.” Alex Beam, “Looking Backward,” Boston Globe, 21 Dec. 1992, at 19. Careful writers and speakers tend to use “photocopy” or some other similar word. *”Zerox” is a common misspelling. X-ray; x-ray. Either form (capitalized or not) is correct, although the first is perhaps more common. Although Webster’s 11th suggests that the term is hyphenated as an adjective and verb (“X-ray”) but not as a noun (“X ray”), most other dictionaries hyphenate the term in all parts of speech. That makes good sense, and it’s an easy rule to follow. yes. This word has two possible plurals: “yeses” and “yesses.” The better plural for the noun is “yeses” because, like “buses,” it follows the usual rule for nouns ending in “-s.” But the verb “yes” is inflected “yessed,” “yessing.” Therefore, the second-person singular verb is “yesses” {he’s so uxorious that he yesses her constantly}. *Invariably inferior form. For information about Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “There is not a day of our lives in which we do not use a large number of words in a meaning not merely inconsistent with their derivation, but in actual defiance of it. . . . We designate the political, literary, and scientific periodicals which come out weekly, and even monthly, by the name of journals, as do the French from whom we took the word. Were we under the bondage of derivation, we should have to limit the use to a daily paper.” Thomas R. Lounsbury, The Standard of Usage in English 152-53 (1908).
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