Tag surfing this morning on the balcony of my hostel in Panama City, Panama, I ran across a commonly used expression that drives me up the wall. The author described something as being “surrounded on three sides.” If something is “surrounded” it is enclosed on ALL sides. You can have something “bordered” on three sides but not “surrounded.” This is a common error and is perpetrated even by journalists who are paid to know the difference.
Another one that makes my back teeth scream is the misappropriate use of the word “jealous” when a person actually means “envy.”
Example: “I’m going on vacation to the French Riviera to visit all the topless beaches there” or “My father just gave me a Testosterona 360 convertible for my graduation gift.”
“Wow, dude, I’m so jealous.”
Jealousy is a feeling based on unjustified and irrational beliefs, usually in relationships with other persons. Your girl/boyfriend, wife/husband run into an old flame at a party. They seem to be having a good time together, talking and laughing while you sit on the sidelines by yourself stewing and thinking he/she is going to go home with the other person even though you know good an well it’s not going to happen. It’s your insecurity about the relationship that’s causing you to be jealous. On the other hand, envy is the painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. Totally different, unless you’re a third party at the party watching the couple in the corner engaging in deep and lustful looks into each other’s eyes, occasionally exchanging bodily fluids and you wish it was you participating. That’s envy.
Now that I am one I’ve always been bothered by people who call those who have left their own country to take up residence in another as “expatriots.” They aren’t. Those people are EXPATRIATES, from the Medieval Latin expatriatus, past participle of expatriare to leave one’s own country, from Latin ex- + patria native country, from feminine of patrius of a father. An expatriot would be someone who was once patriotic but no longer is. A turncoat.
Don’t even get me started on the to, too, two crowd or the there, their, they’re idiots.
When I first put a headline up here I started it as “A Couple of Misused Words” but then, of course, realized that the word “couple” means two and would then be another misused word.