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

Miscellaneous Entries. total, vb., makes “totaled” and “totaling” in American English, “totalled” and “totalling” in British English. to the effect that is often verbose for “that.” totting up (= adding up, calculating) is sometimes incorrectly made *”toting up” (which means “carrying up”) — e.g.: “Toting [read ‘Totting’] up a lifetime of 35 campaigns, in primaries and general elections, looking back on the proud history of a district once represented by the Speaker of the House, William B. Bankhead (Tallulah’s father), Mr. Bevill maintained that the weight of history was on the Democrats’ side.” Robin Toner, “Retirements a Hurdle for Dixie’s Democrats,” N.Y. Times, 7 July 1996, at 1, 8. touchy; tetchy; *techy. “Touchy” = (1) oversensitive; irritable {he was a bit touchy during the interview}; or (2) requiring caution or tact in handling {a touchy subject}. Even though it predates “touchy,” “tetchy” (as well as its alternative spelling *”techy”) is now a variant form (in sense 1). tourniquet. So spelled. toxic, n.; toxin. It’s true that “toxic,” which is mostly an adjective {toxic substances}, has been a noun meaning “a poisonous substance, chemical or otherwise” since the late 19th century {releasing toxics into the air}. It’s also true that “toxin” is narrower in scope: technically speaking, it means “a poisonous substance produced by a living organism, esp. a disease-causing substance.” Despite those inconvenient facts, though, “toxic” is almost invariably used as an adjective today; to use it as a noun in general writing invites confusion and probably suspicion that the writer has blundered. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.” John Keats to John Taylor, Letters (as quoted in The Writer on His Art 10 (Walter Allen ed., 1949).
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