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

Miscellaneous Entries. right, adj. ; righteous; rightful. These terms are sometimes confused. “Right” = correct, proper, just. “Righteous” = morally upright, virtuous, or law-abiding. This term has strong religious connotations, often of unctuousness. “Rightful” = (1) (of an action) equitable, fair {a rightful solution}; (2) (of a person) legitimately entitled to a position {the rightful heir}; or (3) (of an office or piece of property) that one is entitled to {his rightful inheritance}. right, vb. ; *righten. The latter is a needless variant — e.g.: “Walter Orange plays the comic constable, Dogberry, who rightens [read ‘rights’] the situation between Claudio and Hero.” T.E. Foreman, “‘Much Ado,’ Much Updated,” Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Cal.), 2 Aug. 1996, at A19. right-of-way is hyphenated whether used as a phrasal adjective {a right-of-way easement} or as a noun {yield the right-of-way}. The plural is “rights-of-way,” not *"right-of-ways." right to die. As a noun phrase, “right to die” is three words {advocates of the right to die}; but as a phrasal adjective, it should be hyphenated: “Both sides of a right-to-die case received a skeptical hearing today at the Supreme Court.” Linda Greenhouse, “Right-to-Die Case Gets First Hearing in Supreme Court,” N.Y. Times, 7 Dec. 1989, at 1. right-to-lifer (= an opponent of abortion rights) is journalists’ jargon — and is often used as a pejorative. E.g.: “The cast of characters includes . . . Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, a strident right-to-lifer who took the questionable step of asking the court to reconsider Roe.” “The Battle over Abortion,” Newsweek, 1 May 1989, at 28. right to privacy is three words as a noun phrase, but hyphenated as a phrasal adjective {right-to-privacy case}. *Invariably inferior forms. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: Style is the manner of choosing and arranging words so as to produce determinate and intended effects in language. John F. Genung, The Working Principles of Rhetoric 16 (1902).
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