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

Miscellaneous Entries. typography; topography. “Typography” = the study and techniques of using type in printing, esp. as a designer or a typesetter. “Topography” = the three-dimensional shape of terrain. On occasion the first word gets misused for the second — e.g.: “The highest and best use of the property is the mining of limestone, says the appeal, ‘given the typography [read ‘topography’], the high grade of plattin limestone deposits, the character of the surrounding property and the historic use of the subject property and the surrounding property.'” Ralph Dummit, “Pressure Prompts Hearing on Quarry,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12 Aug. 1998, St. Charles Post §, at 1. Language-Change Index — “typography” misused for “topography”: Stage 1. tyro (= a beginner, novice) is the standard spelling in American English. “Tiro” predominates in British English. The plural is “tyros” (or, in British English, “tiros”). ugly is sometimes used in the sense “ill-tempered, mean” {Mike is being ugly again}. The Oxford English Dictionary dates “ugly” in the sense “cross, angry” from the 17th century, with examples up to the 19th century. “Ugly customer” (= a person who is difficult to deal with or likely to cause trouble) appears in Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) and several other 19th-century sources. ukase (/yoo-KAUS/ or /YOO-kays/), originally a Russian term, meant literally “a decree or edict, having the force of law, issued by the Russian emperor or government” (OED). By extension it has come to mean “any proclamation or decree, esp. of a final or arbitrary nature.” E.g.: “Robert Landauer, former editorial page editor of The Oregonian, says citizens see the planning as growing out of a participatory process and not from ukases issued by professional planners.” E.J. Dionne, “Portland Has Cut Through Obstacles to Make Urban Planning Work,” News & Record (Greensboro), 1 June 1997, at F4. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Metaphor is the omnipresent principle of language . . . . Even in the rigid language of the settled sciences we do not eliminate or prevent it without great difficulty.” I.A. Richards, Philosophy of Rhetoric 92 (1936) (as quoted in Robert T. Harris & James L. Jarrett, Language and Informal Logic 181-82 (1956)).
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