Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: tentative.

tentative. “Tentative” (/TEN-tuh-tiv/) is often mispronounced, and therefore mistakenly written, as if the word were *”tenative” — e.g.: o “At the all-star break, he was making 42 percent (126 of 300) of his field goals, looking tenative [read ‘tentative’] with the ball.” David Aldridge, “Harvey Grant Has Found That He Could Get to Like Starting After All,” Wash. Post, 16 Apr. 1990, at C6. o “The department and USEC have reached a tenative [read ‘tentative’] agreement on allowing the Department of Energy to take over USEC’s plant in Paducah, Kentucky if the company ceases production there.” Carter Dougherty, “Energy Department, USEC Near Pact on Nuclear Power,” Wash. Times, 11 Feb. 2002, at A6. o “Those first, tenative [read ‘tentative’] forays at Cathedral and White Horse ledges led to a winter ascent of Mount Washington, then to 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado.” Michael O’Connor, “Up to Challenge,” Boston Herald, 4 May 2002, at 38. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Punning is a technique now being exploited once more in all seriousness after centuries of disrepute. It is made possible by the existence of homonyms in a language: words identical in spoken form but having different meanings, often different origins.” Margaret Schlauch, The Gift of Tongues 235 (1943; repr. 1960).
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