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

Miscellaneous Entries. tinsel, vb., makes “tinseled” and “tinseling” in American English, “tinselled” and “tinselling” in British English. tintinnabulum (= a small tinkling bell) forms the plural “tintinnabula.” The corresponding adjective, “tintinnabulary,” is more common than the noun; it means “of or relating to bells or their sounds.” E.g.: “Tunes like ‘The Ukrainian Bell Carol’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ clearly established the tintinnabulary idea but the densely textured arrangement rarely showcased the vocal capabilities of those accomplished singers.” Rick Rogers, “Canterbury Singers Celebrate Tuneful Christmas,” Daily Oklahoman, 11 Dec. 1996, at 17. titmouse (= a small songbird) is also known as a “tit,” but only serious birdwatchers use the shortened form (because of the vulgar homonym). The vastly predominant plural (and the one recognized by dictionaries) is “titmice,” not *”titmouses” — e.g.: “In recent days chickadees, titmice, robins, cardinals, and white-breasted nuthatches seemed to celebrate the return of blue skies and sunshine.” Scott Shalaway, “Birds First Sign of Spring,” Pitt. Post-Gaz., 16 Mar. 2003, at D16. The form “titmouses,” though perhaps logical (since it’s not a mouse at all), occurs so infrequently as to be ill-advised — e.g.: “Other visitors to the Gibbs’ yard Monday were cardinals, white-throated sparrows, . . . titmouses [read ‘titmice’], chickadees, juncos, Carolina wrens, bluebirds and goldfinches.” Sylvia Cooper, “Watch Out for the Birds,” Augusta Chron., 24 Jan. 2003, at D10. Language-Change Index — *”titmouses” for “titmice”: Stage 1. together appears in many a redundancy, such as *”blend together,” *”connect together,” *”consolidate together,” *”couple together,” and *”merge together.” These phrases should be avoided, except when part of a set phrase (e.g., “join together” in a marriage ceremony). *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Behind every good letter, article, or report is a writer who has taken time to figure things out — to select, analyze, and organize his ideas.” Jerome H. Perlmutter, A Practical Guide to Effective Writing 13 (1965).
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