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

Miscellaneous Entries. uncontrollable; *incontrollable. The latter is a needless variant. uncovered is often ambiguous. It may mean (1) “not covered” {because they forgot to put up the tarp, the plants were completely uncovered throughout the storm}; or (2) “having had the cover removed” {the winds blew the tarp and uncovered the plants}. Hence, to say the plants were uncovered during the storm creates an ambiguity. unctuous (/UHNGK-choo-uhs/) is so spelled. *”Unctious” (/UHNG-shuhs/) is a not-uncommon mispronunciation and misspelling based on “unction” — e.g.: “Most unbelievably unctious [read ‘unctuous’]: Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls, after winning Best Dance Video: ‘Lady Diana had real girl-power.'” Jim Sullivan, “MTV Awards: The Show, the Sex, the Stupidity,” Boston Globe, 5 Sept. 1997, at C16. Language-Change Index — “unctuous” misspelled *”unctious”: Stage 2. underhanded; underhand, adj. The shorter form is much older {underhand dealings}, but “underhanded” is now more than twice as common and must be accepted as standard — e.g.: “Partisans accused each other of unnecessary delay and underhanded negotiating tactics.” Jeff Mayers & Mike Flaherty, “Senate GOP Could OK Budget Deal,” Wis. State J., 20 Sept. 1997, at B1. Increasingly, “underhand” is confined to literal senses {because he hurt his shoulder, the tennis champion is temporarily having to use an underhand serve}. Language-Change Index — “underhanded” for “underhand”: Stage 5. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “‘What can be said at all can be said clearly.’ Even the most abstruse principles of a living science are surely amenable to lucid exposition.” Simeon Potter, Modern Linguistics 7 (2d ed. 1967).
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