Language is something I pay a lot of attention to and care a lot about, and so poor usage really bums me out. Few things needle me more than somebody using “cozen” when what he means is “cousin”, or “fathom” when what’s called for is “fat them”.
Following are a couple of mis-uses that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. If you or someone you love makes these mistakes, for the love of god, fix it. You’re hurting yourself, and, more importantly, you’re hurting me.
- “This, that and the other” is a phrase with a very specific meaning. It is not a generic reference to non-specific “stuff”. It refers to the balloons, the stampbook, and the hash. Always. If you do not mean to invoke balloons, the stampbook, and the hash, then “this, that and the other” is not the phrase you want. E.g.:
Now listen, I did not take this, that and the other; I only took a couple of stamps, like you said I could. And some of your underwear — I assumed you were complicit in the underwear theft, that it turned you on.
Note: It has become acceptable in recent years to use “this, that and the other” to refer to condoms, the stampbook, and the hash.
- An altimeter is a scientific instrument that guages altitude; it looks like a little clock with the wheeling arms and the little number jobbies. It does NOT mean “all them o’ therr” or “all of them over there”. Therefore,
Check the altimeter, Jeff, if you want to know. Our height, I mean. Off the ground, that is.
Gimme… gimme… four reg’lar nightcrawler… uh… four squid-headed nightcrawler… three a them slimy yeller guys… ah, hell, just gimme altimeter.
- Cuddlebug and scuttlebutt are not synonyms. A cuddlebug is a person or mammalian pet that likes to cuddle up against other people or pets, kind of nudging at them in an affectionate way using the head or face area to nudge and push. A scuttlebutt is an anal rape. So,
Awwww, look at this little guy… What a cuddlebug! He’s got my vote!
The movie Irreversible contains one of the most graphic, brutal scuttlebutts you’re likely to ever see on film.
Great. Just remember: with a little attentiveness and determination, we can all stop looking like buffoons when we say things like, “It was him, officer, he’s the one I saw cuddlebugging my dog!” Because that’s like, hey officer, give this guy a medal — he’s really nice to dogs. He snuggles them.