Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordly Wednesday: INCONCEIVABLE!


"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

In my opinion, that's one of the best movie quotes of all time.

It's spoken by the character Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride" after hearing his gang's leader, Vizzinni, shout the word, "Inconceivable!" on several occassions.

I crack up whenever I hear it. It reminds me of all of the times I've misused or heard other people misuse those pesky little words that sound like other words or sound like they should mean something else.

Words like:

Hubris
As a newspaper reporter, I see this word in headlines quite often. The actual definition is overbearing pride or presumption. To me, it sounds like something that should be growing in the garden next to my hostas.

Mortify

I'll never forget my high school American Lit teacher going over (and over and over) this word while reading Mark Twain in class. The misuse of this word was one of his biggest pet peeves. So imagine my amusement the other night when a narrator on The Travel Channel mentioned some place in haunted American that would leave its visitors moritfied.

While mortified can mean death of living tissue, it's more common definition is humiliate. I pretty sure the narrator meant terrified.


And finally ...

Cavalry
As in, now we're safe because the cavalry is coming?

Uh, not quite.

I've seen the misuse of this word in my former role as an obit writer. People often said "cavalry" (troops trained to fight on horseback) when they really meant "Calvary" (the hill near Jerusalem where Jesus Christ was crucified).

I don't think we were talking about military funerals.

Are there any word misuses that you find amusing or annoying?

9 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

I always think of that movie when I hear that word too!

I often hear people use the word peruse wrong. It kind of makes me chuckle.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I loved the movie, The Princess Bride. The dialogue was terrific.

Words are wonderful, tricky things. As a writer I'm always hopeful that I'm using them correctly. :)

Crimey said...

Guilty as charged. I agree with Kathi, words are wonderful and tricky. That's why dictionary.com is my best friend.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Don't know if this counts, but it bugs me when people say, "I could care less." What they mean is, "I *couldn't* care less." If you CAN care LESS, then you do care SOME. Not sure why, but it drives me crazy :).

Eric said...

Awesome quote! I love that movie, particularly all the witty dialogue. I'm kind of like you though. It really bugs me when people misuse or choose the wrong word. When I'm writing, I have a habit of looking up a word just to make sure I'm not using the wrong word as well.

One word that bugs me though is when people use the "word" ain't. It also bugs me that you can actually find "ain't" in a dictionary these days. It's not a word people! I like Kat Heckenbach's example too though.

Eric said...

Okay, cracks me up that the word verification for the last comment was "Couti", which made me think of the word "cooty".

Yeah, I'm weird. Sue me :)

Angie said...

Love that quote! I always get a kick out of misused words. (Probably I should be a little less judgemental, though.)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I've more often heard the opposite misusage from 'calvary': when people mean to say send in the 'cavalry' and instead they say 'send in the calvary.' Probably would be more effective in most cases. Ha ha!

Other major pet peeves are sometimes pronunciation-related. Like 'int' for "isn't" and 'aaaigh' for "all right."

Also a huge fan of The Princess Bride!

lynnrush said...

LOL!!! Love Princess Bride! This post made me smile.
Thanks.
Have a great day!