Essentially v. for all intents and purposes

lie/lay/lain; lay/laid/laid

For All IntentsOne of my Facebook friends, a guy in my neighborhood, posted the graphic above. I’d never seen “supposably,” though I suppose I might have heard it.

But I’m fascinated by “for all intents and purposes.” Why would one say that at all these days, when you could use “essentially” or “in effect”? Let’s go to the dictionary.

“In a 1546 Act of Parliament, the phrase ‘to all intents, constructions, and purposes’ was used to convey that King Henry VIII had unlimited power to interpret laws. Apparently, the people of England took a liking to the phrase—just not the ‘constructions’ part.

“Thereafter, the phrase began appearing in legal documents and other writings in forms such as ‘to all intents’ and ‘to all intents and purposes.’ Nowadays, the latter phrase has survived—chiefly in British English—and ‘for all intents and purposes’ was popularized in American English.”

So it’s an American variation on a British Parliament concession to a monarch’s overreach of power. Got it.

“It is often mistaken as ‘for all intensive purposes’ because when spoken aloud these two phrases sound very similar. These mistakes, where incorrect words and phrases are replaced but the meaning remains the same, are known as eggcorns.”

I’d come up with my own intentional eggcorns for this phrase, just for fun. “For all in tents and porpoises,”, e.g.

As for the others

Regardless Of What You Think, ‘Irregardless’ Is A Word. That was the title of an article just this month. So irregardless, something I say intentionally as a joke to my wife, is a word. Even before the designation, it was always “a word.” Just not a very good one.

Certain phrases I just avoid. “I could care less” is one. This and the “expresso/espresso” bit both show up in Weird Al’s Word Crimes.

Googling pacifically, I found I Love My 30s, a bit from Gina Brillon: Pacifically Speaking. My spellcheck doesn’t even complain.

“I seen it” is something that I usually hear in extemporaneous speech, and it doesn’t distress me. “I’ve seen it” is what they meant, right?

Did you know that upmost is a variant of uppermost, meaning “highest in location, farthest up”? “My office is on the upmost/uppermost floor of the building.” Whereas of upmost importance suggests “highest” in a non-physical sense.

Finally, the lie/lay thing is nuts. The past tense of lie is lay. The past tense of lay is laid, which is also its past participle. Now the past participle of lie is lain, which almost no one uses at all. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Z is for words that start with Z

The only four letter word that I did not know but that had a definition was zarf

zigzagBereft of an appropriate topic for the week, I went to the Wordfinder Words that Start with Z, which “can help you score big playing Words With Friends® and Scrabble®.”

I started with the one two-letter word, za: Shortening and alteration of pizza.
Our Living Language: When people speak casually of ordering a za, “pizza,” they are unwittingly producing an expression Continue reading “Z is for words that start with Z”

(Fairly) New in the Dictionary

Those late 19th and early 20th century elixirs had all sort of funky stuff in them.

I was clearing out some old newspapers when I came across the continuation of a story from August about words being added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I meant to write about at the time. That ever happen to you? Here’s the article.

Shown below are some of the words, along with a few thoughts about them. The years indicate first documented use.

aha moment
– n (1939) a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Surprised this didn’t make it sooner.

brain cramp
– n (1982): an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

There are some variations on this term that may be more popular.

bucket list
– n (2006): a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

I was really shocked Continue reading “(Fairly) New in the Dictionary”