The Most Dangerous Words in America

Rob Kyff on

But some people still use "fulsome" in its original, positive sense, e.g., "Ted offered a heartfelt and fulsome tribute to his brother."

Warning: Avoid using "fulsome," even though it's a stupendous, amazing, fantastic, incredible and terrific word.

--Enormity: Traditionally, "enormity" has meant "monstrously wicked, heinous," e.g., "Newspapers reported the enormity of the dictator's crimes against humanity."

So using "enormity" to mean simply "huge, vast," e.g., "The enormity of the federal tax cuts," can lead to winces, smirks and grimaces.

Warning: If you use "enormity" to mean "huge," purists might consider your error to be an enormity.

--Sanction: "Sanction" is a true contronym -- a word with two opposite meanings.

--Sponsored Video--

It can mean either "to approve, endorse," e.g., "The IOC sanctioned the addition of mixed doubles curling to the Winter Olympics," or "to punish, condemn," e.g., "The IOC sanctioned athletes who tested positive for steroids."

Warning: Sanction "sanction." Now what do I mean by that?


Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Conn., invites your language sightings. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via e-mail to or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

Copyright 2018 Creators Syndicate Inc.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


Dinette Set Rudy Park Marvin Aunty Acid Mutts BC