Uranus. The traditional pronunciation of the planet and the mythical god is /YOOR-uh-nuhs/. The dominant pronunciation in American English is /uu-RAY-nuhs/, even though that variant is a relative newcomer. As Charles Harrington Elster notes, “Until the middle of [the 20th] century nearly two hundred years after the planet’s discovery in 1781, the only recognized pronunciation placed the accent on the first syllable. Thus there is no precedent (other than a popular misconception, perhaps based on a false notion of how the Latin was pronounced) for stressing the second syllable.” The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations 480 (2d ed. 2005). Well, that and the occasional desire for sophomoric jokes. urban; urbane. “Urban = (1) of, relating to, or located in a city; or (2) characteristic of city life. “Urbane” = suave; sophisticated; debonair. Occasionally “urbane” is misused for “urban” — e.g.: “Looking at a computer as a miracle machine is akin to spouting the glories of dense urbane [read ‘urban’] living or fossil fuels.” James Hague, “Maybe You Just Need a File Box and a Typewriter,” Countryside & Small Stock J., July 1995, at 37. Language-Change Index — “urbane” misused for “urban”: Stage 1. U.S.; U.S.A. As the shortened forms for “United States of America,” these terms retain their periods, despite the modern trend to drop the periods in most initialisms. “U.S.” is best reserved for use as an adjective {U.S. foreign policy}, although its use as a noun in headlines is common. In abbreviations incorporating “U.S.,” the periods are typically dropped {USPS} {USO} {USNA}. usable. So spelled — not “useable.” use; utilize; utilization. “Use” is the all-purpose noun and verb, ordinarily to be preferred over “utilize” and “utilization.” “Utilize” is both more abstract and more favorable connotatively than “use.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “If speech is one of the greatest advantages of man, surely it is no contemptible thing to possess this advantage in its full extent, which consists not only in having the use of it, but in understanding its nature, and in doing by knowledge what others do only by custom.” Claude Lancelot & Antoine Arnauld, Preface, A General and Rational Grammar, Thomas Nugent trans., 1753.
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