#WhyWriteWrong?

Every now and then as I’m reading, I see a word that pops out at me as being misused, and by that, I mean the writer didn’t understand the correct definition of the word. Let me say right up front, I’m not an English teacher, nor a grammarian, but sometimes, it’s pretty obvious that what was actually written was not what the author meant.  

 

This happens to all of us from time to time, but we should strive to do better, right? With that thought in mind, today I’d like to address both a single word that gets misused more often than you’d expect, and a pair of words that are frequently confused with each other.

The first word of the day is opaque. Believe it or not, I see this word being misused fairly often. For instance, “She gazed at the rose garden through the opaque windows of the greenhouse.” Huh? Not very likely. Opaque and transparent are exact opposites.  

DEFINITION:
Opaque is defined as not able to be seen through, or not transparent. Synonyms: cloudy, filmy, blurred, smeared, misty, hazy, etc.

Correct Example:
The greenhouse windows were opaque with steam.

Incorrect Example:
He gazed at the moon and stars through the opaque skylight.

 

 

So be sure to describe your (clean) windows as transparent, and your dusty, dirty skylight as opaque.

 

***

My second example involves a pair of somewhat confusing words, which are very often misused in both day-to-day speech and in published books. Let’s take a look at home versus hone.

HOME:
The word home, in addition to meaning a place of residence, can be used as a verb meaning the act of heading home, much like a homing pigeon.

DEFINITION:
To move or be aimed with great accuracy toward a particular target or destination.

 CORRECT EXAMPLES:
The hungry boy homed in on the delicious aroma of chicken roasting on a grill.

and

At dawn, the missiles were launched and immediately began to home in on radar emissions.

HONE:
DEFINITION: The word hone, on the other hand, means to sharpen or whet, as a knife or axe. It also refers to the sharpening or refining of something less tangible, often over a period of time.

CORRECT EXAMPLES:

He honed his hunting knife to a razor’s edge.

and

He has taken numerous vocal classes over the years to hone his singing skills.

 

So if you are writing about someone or something seeking a target destination, you should use home. The lonely man homed in on the sound of the mysterious and haunting music.

And if you are talking about sharpening a blade or perfecting a skill, the word choice is honeWith every new book, the writer honed her vocabulary skills. 

 

And there you have it. If you want to be sure you’ve got it correct, just remember no more being able to look through opaque windows, and no more honing in on the pigeon’s nest, and you’ll be all set! 🙂

See? Easy-peasy!

 

And that’s it for today’s #WhyWriteWrong post.  Has this one been helpful to any of you? Hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts on on misunderstood phrases. Inquiring minds wanna know. 

 

Thanks for stopping by SE today! Please check back often to see what the rest of the gang will be talking about. It’s always good stuff! And I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with something else up my sleeve. In the meantime,  stay safe and stay well! And now I’m heading forth to write with a happy heart. I highly recommend it. 

Happy is good! 


DISCLAIMER
I am not an English teacher, grammarian, or expert on all matters of this nature. I don’t even play one on TV! But I promise I have consulted with those in the know before posting anything in this series.

(All images above were created by me or obtained from Pixabay.) 

42 thoughts on “#WhyWriteWrong?

      • Oh, boy. I hope I never read about someone trying to home a knife! Hahahahahaha. I love it! 😀 Glad you are enjoying the series, Deb! It’s always been a fun thing for me to do, and I’ve got a big, long list for future posts, too. 🙂

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    • Thanks for confessing, Pete. 😀 It makes me very happy to know this little post helped point you in the right direction. You are NOT alone, believe me. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen them used incorrectly. So, now I can go to bed feeling like I did a good thing today, and that’s always a great feeling!

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know it was helpful! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great examples. I have to admit to stumbling over home/hone in my time 🙂
    The opaque one made me think of nonplussed and how many people get that wrong (thinking nonplussed is nonchalant when it’s the exact opposite). Used to be me till someone pointed it out a few years back!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s kind of amazing how many words and phrases we misuse because we heard someone else say it that way, or because we misheard, altogether. Hopefully this series of posts will help clarify some of them for a few folks. Nonplussed is a very good example. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Jessica. Always great to see you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always enjoy these posts, Marica. I think I’ve probably used hone incorrectly in the past, even though I know better. Sometimes I have a disconnect between my brain and my keyboard, LOL! Happy Memorial Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😀 There’s a lot of that disconnected brain going around, Mae! I know I suffer from it quite regularly! 😀 I’m glad you like these posts, Mae. Hoping to do one a month, alternating with longer subjects in between. Happy Memorial Day to you, as well! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, Jan. I keep notes when I see words used incorrectly (though I suspect I miss a few myself, too). I like to do these posts with the thought in mind it might help a few people who’ve been confused. Glad I made it transparent for you! 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Yvette! I’m so glad you think so, and I hope that as the series continues, you’ll find it helps you avoid any errors of this nature. I enjoy doing them, so there will be more coming over time. And thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to comment. I appreciate it very much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great examples, Marcia. It is easy to to get the wrong usage stuck in your head and in your writing. Lately I’ve been double checking definitions of words and every once in a while I’m surprised.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Denise! And great idea to check definitions to be sure on words you know you have trouble remembering. “When in doubt, check it out.” Only takes a minute and can save us embarrassing mistakes, so why not? Hopefully, anyone who stops by here regularly will see more examples of this kind of thing, and with luck, will learn how to avoid some of the more common mistakes. But again, we all have words that we sometimes use incorrectly. It’s just one more thing that we writers should strive to avoid. Having a well-written, error-free book is worth the effort, I think.

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are exactly right, Robbie, which is the reason I love doing one of these each month. They are about the kinds of mistakes we ALL make from time to time, often because we misheard a word or phrase, and had no clue we were using it wrong. And then, voila, it appears in our books like magic, and while not every reader will notice, some will. I doubt that they’d swear off of a writer forever over something like this, but it definitely pulls readers right out of a story, which is something we never want to do. All of these examples I’ll be sharing over the weeks ahead, I made note of when I came across them while reading. Some of them show up far too often. So, I hope these posts will be useful in helping others avoid doing the same thing.

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking a moment to comment. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: My Featured Post on Story Empire today – #WhyWriteWrong? – | The Write Stuff

    • Thanks, Staci! Opaque is used incorrectly far less than hone/home, but when you do run across it, it fairly jumps off the page and smacks you on the head. 😀 And when I’ve asked various people if they know the meaning, they often think it’s a synonym for transparent. So I figured I’d toss it in with hone/home and see if it would help a few people.

      On the other hand, I see hone used in place of home all over the place. (It seems to be an error made by writers at every level of experience, in fact.) If this post helps anyone who visits here today, then I’m a happy camper! 😀

      Happy Memorial Day to you, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Harmony! I like to keep the Why Write Wrong posts clear and simple, and fairly brief. A lot of these will be familiar to many of us, but if they help prevent even one or two writers from making these way-to-common errors, I’m a happy camper. And if they generate a smile along the way, I’m even happier! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s kind of surprising how often I see it used incorrectly in published books, Joan, so I hope this little post will help those who’ve been confused by it see it more clearly now. (See what I did there?? 😀 ) Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks, Joan! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Trish. And “clearer by amusing examples” is exactly what I was aiming for. I think we remember things that make us laugh–at least that’s my working theory. And thanks for stopping by today, too! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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