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

Miscellaneous Entries. *software program. Avoid this redundancy. Either word will do, though “software” will usually be the better choice because it’s the narrower term. solace (= comfort in sorrow or trouble; relief from distress) should not be used merely as a synonym of “comfort,” without the circumstance of grief or distress being implied. The misuse occurs here: “Companies with the greatest market share often have a tendency to ‘sit on a lead.’ They will take solace [read ‘undue pride’?] in their numbers, become complacent, and lose their competitive edge.” Mark H. McCormack, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School 205-06 (1984). solemnness is sometimes misspelled *”solemness” — e.g.: “Contrast solemness [read ‘solemnness’] and spooky guitar noise with bright melodies and a flair for rocking.” Kieran Grant, “Love and Rockets Still Setting Off Fireworks,” Toronto Sun, 8 Apr. 1996, Entertainment §, at 36. Surprisingly, the Oxford English Dictionary lists the misspelling as a variant; it surely doesn’t warrant that standing, since it violates every sound principle of word-formation. In any event, a far better choice is to use the familiar “solemnity.” solicitude= (1) protectiveness; or (2) anxiety. Because of these two quite different senses, the word is often ambiguous. But sense 1 is now more common — e.g.: “Afterward, in a show of solicitude rarely displayed during his five months at St. Stanislaus, he comforted parishioners distraught by the death of their beloved Father Willie.” Mark Gillispie, “An Unlikely Murder Suspect,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 12 Jan. 2003, at A1. *Invariably inferior forms. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The mistakes your children make as youngsters are part of the learning process. They won’t commit errors on purpose until they’re teenagers and want to press your buttons.” Mary Newton Bruder, The Grammar Lady 99 (2000).
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