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

Miscellaneous Entries. triceps. While the correct term for these three-anchored muscles (especially the back muscle of the upper arm, called the “triceps brachii” by anatomists) is “triceps” in both singular and plural forms, it is so common when writing of a single muscle to drop the “-s” that *”tricep” has become a variant form — e.g.: “Then a therapist thumps the tricep and bicep of the bad right arm.” Katti Gray, “Healing Is a Matter of Time — and Love,” Newsday (N.Y.), 29 Oct. 2002, pt. II, at B2. This variant appears mostly in listings of sports injuries. It is better to stick with the standard singular form “triceps, “by far the more commonly used form. trifecta (/trI-FEK-tuh/) is a wager to pick, in correct order, the first-, second-, and third-place winners of a race, especially a horse race. The term was derived in the 1970s from “perfecta” (= a wager to pick the first two winners of a race), which itself dates from 1961. trillion. In the United States and France, “trillion” means “a million millions”; but in Great Britain, it traditionally means “a million million millions.” The difference is more than substantial. But British writers today generally follow the American usage. trimestral — not *”trimestrial” — is the preferred adjective corresponding to “trimester.” trimonthly (= [1] occurring once every three months; or [2] lasting for three months) is typically inferior to the more common “quarterly” — e.g.: “The money that they collect this month will allow them to continue to provide such services as publishing a trimonthly [read ‘quarterly’] newsletter.” Darren Becker, “Montreal Centre Wages Campaign for Peace,” Montreal Gaz., 15 Dec. 1996, at D3. It’s wrong to use “trimonthly” in the sense “three times a month,” as some writers do. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Conduct your editing so that the author, when he sees it in print, will think, ‘I did not realize that I wrote so well.'” Lester S. King, Why Not Say It Clearly 83 (1978).
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