Here’s a word problem pop quiz: Let’s say you’ve heard a certain fancy-sounding word every so often and even read it in print a couple of times — but…still don’t have a clear understanding of how to properly use it yourself. Should you insert this word into one of your blog posts anyway?
[Visualize this – me, twirling my oaken paddle menacingly while pacing the wood floor in my 6-inch stilettos]
If you answered yes, you deserve a spanking for imbecilic word usage just like this “copywriter slash editor” who wrote the following:
“In lieu of a recent situation in our neighborhood…I decided to have the talk again with my kids.”
The word “lieu” makes absolutely no sense here. I can only assume the blogger used the word thinking it meant “because of” or “due to”.
Why, oh why, attempt to use a word when you aren’t absolutely sure of its proper usage and meaning?
The word, lieu, comes from the Old French words liu and lieu and from the Latin word, locus. Its first known use occurred somewhere during the 14th century. In modern English we use the idiomatic phrase, in lieu of, to mean instead of – NOT because of or due to.
Here’s an example of proper usage of the word:
“In lieu of going to Galveston beach, we’ve decided to hang out by the kiddie pool in the back yard.”
Lecture (or rant) over. And in lieu of turning your cute tush 50 shades of red with my paddle, I’m giving you some additional quick and dirty tips on using Latin abbreviations. Straighten up in your seat and pay attention.
- etc. – abbreviation for the Latin phrase et cetera, meaning “and so forth”. Don’t misspell it by transposing the t and the c as so many careless others do. Whether you use the entire phrase or the abbreviation, use a comma before it when it appears at the end of a list. Usage: Go to the store and get vodka, rum, milk, etc., for the party.
- et al. – abbreviation for the Latin et alia, meaning “and others”. Use this when citing a multi-author source and you leave out all but the main author. Do not put a period after the et, only after al. Do not use a comma before this abbreviation like you do with etc.
- i.e. – abbreviation for id est, meaning “that is”. Add a period after both letters. People often leave out the periods and that’s just plain wrong. Use this when making clarifications, not when making examples.
- e.g. – abbreviation for exempli gratia, meaning “for example”. Again, make certain to use periods after each letter of this abbreviation. Use this when presenting examples of something.
Be word smart and avoid the spanking. That’s all for now, class dismissed!
Share the grammar and word usage fails you’ve seen around the Web or around town with us….we’ll get our rulers, red pens, and paddles ready and add lots of heavy sighing.