By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated, November 14, 2013)
Militate: (verb) act as a potent factor against something, make something unlikely to happen (used with against)
A number of factors militate against the likelihood of a boy in a poor neighbourhood growing up to be an ostrich, including basic biology and the laws of probability.
Mitigate: (verb) make less harmful or severe
Martin attempted to mitigate the effects of his clumsiness by wrapping himself in bubble wrap before leaving the house.
Although many don’t distinguish between the two, technically, nauseous means sickening while nauseated means feeling ill, as though about to vomit. Therefore, people who say “I am nauseous” are saying “I make others sick.”
Noisome: (adjective) offensive or nasty smelling
Although the slice of pizza grew increasingly noisome, Arvid would not throw it away because its toppings formed a pattern resembling Elvis Presley’s face.
Noisy: (adjective) loud
Grandma Miggins’ parties tended to be noisy because the members of her knitting circle were all heavy drinkers and quite obnoxious when intoxicated.
Both of these words mean the condition of being typical, usual, or as expected. However, many people hate normalcy, so normality is a safer choice.
Things at the office eventually returned to normality once everyone had forgotten about the erotic cake that Jane had brought to celebrate the Solstice.
Both mean to adapt or direct something or someone toward or for something, or to find one’s position relative to one’s surroundings, but orient is the preferred form.
Dobbie had difficulty orienting himself when he woke up after a night of heavy drinking because the traffic cone he wore on his head covered his eyes and the merry-go-round he’d fallen asleep on was still spinning.
- Casagrande, J. (2006). Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language tor Fun and Spite. Penguin, New York.
- Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries. (2004). 100 Words Almost Everyone Confuses & Misuses. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin Company.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2013). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Merrriam-Webster.com.
- O’Conner, P. T. (1996). Woe Is I, the Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. New York, G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. (2013). Oxford University Press. OALD8.OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com