Peruse - is this the most misused word?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by MickeS, Aug 23, 2002.

  1. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    "To peruse" something means to inspect or examine it in great detail. Yet it seems like many people use it as meaning that they glanced or quickly browsed through something.

    What other words are there that many people use, but that actually mean the complete opposite? I can't think of any others.
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Irregardless (no such word exists).
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    "Fortuitous". It used to mean "by chance". Then everyone started using it as a synonym for "fortunate". Now I see that meaning listed in dictionaries as an alternative, but I refuse to accept it.

    M.
     
  4. Michael Pineo

    Michael Pineo Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, I had no idea that was the definition of peruse. I had always just assumed it meant "to glance over" since that seems to be the way everyone uses it. Luckily that is not a word I use very often.
    Just as an interesting note, irregardless does actually show up in the dictionary now. It is considered a synonym of regardless (although they do mention that it should not be used formally). I guess if you use a word incorrectly enough it will end up in the dictionary eventually [​IMG]
    MikeP
     
  5. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Well, I perused a pitcher of DosXX Amber at lunch today. Of course, by the time I was done perusing, it was gone.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  6. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  7. Paul Richardson

    Paul Richardson Second Unit

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    Why does "Inflammable" mean the same thing as "Flammable"?
     
  8. Anders Englund

    Anders Englund Second Unit

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  9. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Paul,

    That's because the "in" in inflammable doesn't mean a negation. It's derived from a word meaning "starting to".

    So "inflammable" means "can start to burn, can ignite". I suppose "flammable" is a neologism that came to existence as a result of a more or less widespread misunderstanding of "inflammable" (namely as a negation).

    Cees
     
  10. Kevin Potts

    Kevin Potts Second Unit

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    My 15yr old Webster's has Peruse: 1. To read carefully; study. 2. To read in a leisurely way.
     
  11. John Miles

    John Miles Stunt Coordinator

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    Penultimate. It means "the next to the last," but people use it when they mean "last."
    Erstwhile. It means "former." Yet it seems to be used most often as a synonym for "earnest." [​IMG]
     
  12. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    peruse: transitive verb 1 : to examine or consider or survey with some attention and typically for the purpose of discovering or noting one or more specific points - Merriam-Webster Unabridged On-Line (emphasis added)
    So I peruse the want ads, looking for computer-related jobs. I don't read each ad in detail, or study the whole section, I survey and examine it looking for the particular ads that I'm interested in. (I then read those in detail.) That's where the sense of "glancing over" comes from.
    "Literally" used to mean the exact opposite of what it does today. It originally meant "as a metaphor", the kind of thing you would find in literature, fanciful. If I said Ron and Parker were tyrants, and then explained that I meant that literally, I would be saying that I didn't mean that they actually were tyrants. (
     
  13. Bill Slack

    Bill Slack Supporting Actor

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    I use erstwhile all the time (and correctly!)
    When people ask me what I do: "I'm an erstwhile software engineer."
    It sounds better than unemployed. And a lot of people seem to think it means something good. [​IMG]
    --
    I peruse the back of DVDs all the time. I look for very important details and examine them. Like what AR, whether it's 16:9 enhanced, and the year of the film.
    I am not reading if very carefully, but I am looking for something to examine in great detail. I think that's how most people use it, and I believe that's correct usage, though the definition seems somewhat ambiguous, to me.
     

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