Dogged Readers Snarl at Pet Peeves

Rob Kyff on

Every so often, I like to unleash my readers' pet peeves, aka 'pete noires, 'cur'sed terms and 'dog'gerrrrrel.

Emailer Phyllis Aronson unleashes an entire kennel of curs. She hates it when people: 1) use "shrunk" instead of "shrank" as the past tense of "shrink"; 2) insert "of" into "not that big (of) a deal"; 3) use "further" instead of "farther" for physical distance.

When it comes to kibble quibbles, Shelley Reed of Alameda, California, serves up objections to "first come, first serve," which should be "first come, first served," as well as "passed" used for "past," e.g., "He walked passed the building."

Mark Lander of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is no fan-fan of redundancies such as "ATM machine," "hot water heater," "knots per hour" and "MLB baseball," while Dexter Senft of Bedford, New York, notes that nine out of 10 people use "decimate" to mean "almost totally destroy," when it technically means "to destroy 10% of something."

David Anson of Bradenton, Florida, disses the use of "disinterested," which means "unbiased," to mean "uninterested," and Judy King of Farmington, Connecticut, hits high wattage when people say, "What?" instead of "Excuse me?" or "Pardon me?" when they haven't heard someone.

Emailer Don Onnen gets out of sorts when he hears people on cable news channels continually say "sort of," and Jim Bond of Canton, Connecticut, is shaken, not stirred, by the past-tense misspelling of the verb "to lead" as "lead" instead of "led." John Strother of Princeton, New Jersey, gets "so" angry when people begin every sentence with "So."


Blair Johnson, an editor and professor at the University of Connecticut, wants to say "ta-ta!" to the insertion of an extra "ta" into "preventive" to form the needless variant "preventative," while Vera Eggert of Clinton, Connecticut, thinks it's unhealthy for people to describe food that's good for you as "healthy" (not diseased) when it's actually "healthful" (promoting health).

Emailer Jerry Schwartz wants people to get their facts straight. He notes that the widely-used term "false fact" is an oxymoron and a "factoid" is not, as many people seem to think, a nifty little fact but a piece of unverified or inaccurate information that's presented as a fact.

The dropping of syllables from "meteorologist" ("meterologist") and "temperature" ("tempature") raises the temperature of Rita Marie Mathias of Tullytown, Pennsylvania, while Rick Suttner of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is, like, you know, annoyed by people who repeatedly insert "like" and "you know" into their sentences.


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

Copyright 2019 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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