Words Are Funny Things

Some words are seldom said. When’s the last time you heard someone say “akimbo”? I might be the only person I’ve ever heard say it, and that was because I made a point of it.
As a boy, I got many of my “big words” from comic books. As a result, for years, until I heard someone else use it, I thought “askew” (uh-SKEW) was pronounced as if it were a name, Askew (ASS-kew).
Some words are perpetually affiliated in that one is seldom used without the accompaniment of the other. Seldom is havoc anything but wreaked. Seldom is anything wreaked save havoc.
Then there are words that are spoken but seldom written. At some point in my meager development, I realized that what I considered “chester drawers” were actually a chest of drawers. While on the fascinating subject of furniture, I often wondered how in hell to spell “shiffuhroe.” It took me 10 minutes on the Internet. It’s a chifferobe, a combination of a chest of drawers and a wardrobe.
There are words that are seldom used correctly, such as “literally.” It’s often used when people mean it’s near-opposite, “figuratively.” TV announcer on a punt returner: “This kid can literally fly.”
No, he can’t.


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