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* '''[[Film/ThePrincessBride Inconceivable]]''', the word referred to in the page quote. It means that something is impossible even to imagine (or, depending on usage, to conceive in a biological sense, such as an inter-species crossbreed), although there is some variability to this. Anything that is truly and utterly inconceivable would by definition [[YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm be unimaginable in any way, shape or form by our minds (including the mere concept), as they simply weren’t designed to conjure up such information]]. In any case, it does not mean "impossible", "highly unlikely", or "unfortunate". (It should be noted that this may not be a valid definition, but it's perfectly valid ''as hyperbole''.) The closest synonym would probably be "incomprehensible". For example, [[{{Film/ThePrincessBride}} a Man in Black scaling the Cliffs of Insanity after the rope he was climbing was dropped]] is unlikely, while scaling the cliff by himself without limbs or any equipment would be impossible. If the man wore, not black but, ''a [[FictionalColour color imperceptible to humans]]'', that color would be, for the most part, inconceivable (the concept can be conceived but the realization cannot). It is impossible to give an example of something truly inconceivable since to do so would mean it is simultaneously possible and impossible to think of it.[[note]]That said, philosophy has its own debates about whether you can ''really'' conceive of some things that can be verbally described, and if you can, does that prove something about their (im)possibility.[[/note]]

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* '''[[Film/ThePrincessBride Inconceivable]]''', the word referred to in the page quote. It Inconceivable]]''' means that something is impossible even to imagine (or, depending on usage, to conceive in a biological sense, such as an inter-species crossbreed), although there is some variability to this. Anything that is truly and utterly inconceivable would by definition [[YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm be unimaginable in any way, shape or form by our minds (including the mere concept), as they simply weren’t designed to conjure up such information]]. In any case, it does not mean "impossible", "highly unlikely", or "unfortunate". (It should be noted that this may not be a valid definition, but it's perfectly valid ''as hyperbole''.) The closest synonym would probably be "incomprehensible". For example, [[{{Film/ThePrincessBride}} a Man in Black scaling the Cliffs of Insanity after the rope he was climbing was dropped]] is unlikely, while scaling the cliff by himself without limbs or any equipment would be impossible. If the man wore, not black but, ''a [[FictionalColour color imperceptible to humans]]'', that color would be, for the most part, inconceivable (the concept can be conceived but the realization cannot). It is impossible to give an example of something truly inconceivable since to do so would mean it is simultaneously possible and impossible to think of it.[[note]]That said, philosophy has its own debates about whether you can ''really'' conceive of some things that can be verbally described, and if you can, does that prove something about their (im)possibility.[[/note]]


* '''[[Film/ThePrincessBride Inconceivable]]''', the word referred to in the page quote. It means that something is impossible even to imagine (or, depending on usage, to conceive in a biological sense, such as an inter-species crossbreed), although there is some variability to this. Anything that is truly and utterly inconceivable would by definition [[YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm be unimaginable in any way, shape or form by our minds (including the mere concept), as they simply weren’t designed to conjure up such information]]. In any case, it does not mean "impossible", "highly unlikely", or "unfortunate". (It should be noted that this may not be a valid definition, but it's perfectly valid ''as hyperbole''.) The closest synonym would probably be "incomprehensible". For example, [[{{Film/ThePrincessBride}} a Man in Black scaling the Cliffs of Insanity after the rope he was climbing was dropped]] is unlikely, while scaling the cliff by himself without limbs or any equipment would be impossible. If the man wore, not black but, ''a [[FictionalColour color imperceptible to humans]]'', that color would be, for the most part, inconceivable (the concept can be conceived but the realization cannot). It is impossible to give an example of something truly inconceivable since to do so would mean it is simultaneously possible and impossible to think of it.

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* '''[[Film/ThePrincessBride Inconceivable]]''', the word referred to in the page quote. It means that something is impossible even to imagine (or, depending on usage, to conceive in a biological sense, such as an inter-species crossbreed), although there is some variability to this. Anything that is truly and utterly inconceivable would by definition [[YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm be unimaginable in any way, shape or form by our minds (including the mere concept), as they simply weren’t designed to conjure up such information]]. In any case, it does not mean "impossible", "highly unlikely", or "unfortunate". (It should be noted that this may not be a valid definition, but it's perfectly valid ''as hyperbole''.) The closest synonym would probably be "incomprehensible". For example, [[{{Film/ThePrincessBride}} a Man in Black scaling the Cliffs of Insanity after the rope he was climbing was dropped]] is unlikely, while scaling the cliff by himself without limbs or any equipment would be impossible. If the man wore, not black but, ''a [[FictionalColour color imperceptible to humans]]'', that color would be, for the most part, inconceivable (the concept can be conceived but the realization cannot). It is impossible to give an example of something truly inconceivable since to do so would mean it is simultaneously possible and impossible to think of it.[[note]]That said, philosophy has its own debates about whether you can ''really'' conceive of some things that can be verbally described, and if you can, does that prove something about their (im)possibility.[[/note]]


Here are the commonly misused words, from most to least JustForFun/{{egregious}}:

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Here are the commonly misused words, from most to least to most JustForFun/{{egregious}}:



[[/index]]

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[[/index]][[/index]]

[[AC:And finally...]]
* '''[[Film/ThePrincessBride Inconceivable]]''', the word referred to in the page quote. It means that something is impossible even to imagine (or, depending on usage, to conceive in a biological sense, such as an inter-species crossbreed), although there is some variability to this. Anything that is truly and utterly inconceivable would by definition [[YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm be unimaginable in any way, shape or form by our minds (including the mere concept), as they simply weren’t designed to conjure up such information]]. In any case, it does not mean "impossible", "highly unlikely", or "unfortunate". (It should be noted that this may not be a valid definition, but it's perfectly valid ''as hyperbole''.) The closest synonym would probably be "incomprehensible". For example, [[{{Film/ThePrincessBride}} a Man in Black scaling the Cliffs of Insanity after the rope he was climbing was dropped]] is unlikely, while scaling the cliff by himself without limbs or any equipment would be impossible. If the man wore, not black but, ''a [[FictionalColour color imperceptible to humans]]'', that color would be, for the most part, inconceivable (the concept can be conceived but the realization cannot). It is impossible to give an example of something truly inconceivable since to do so would mean it is simultaneously possible and impossible to think of it.


'''Many of the "common" usages here have become accepted definitions of the words listed. Do not treat a definition as incorrect simply because it is listed here.'''
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[[folder: Least Pedantic]]
* '''Venomous''' and '''poisonous''' are not interchangeable, which is a common mistake in usage. ''Venomous'' means the subject has the ability to actively transmit poison. ''Poisonous'' means the subject transmits poison passively (ie. is eaten). Therefore, a poisonous frog means that it will poison those eating it, while a venomous snake means it will poison its victims by biting them and injecting toxins. As the mnemonic saying goes, "If it bites you and you die, it's venomous. If you bite it and you die, it's poisonous." [[note]]Similar issues happen in other languages -- for instance, in Spanish, ''venenoso'' (venomous) is very often used where ''ponzoñoso'' (poisonous) should be (although the opposite almost never happens), to the extent many assume both words are now synonyms, and that ''ponzoñoso'' is just an old word that is not used anymore.[[/note]] This means that, technically, if you are bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion, the correct past tense is "I have been envenomed." This may be because most animal venoms are ''not'' harmful if swallowed...not that we'd recommend drinking it, since it can still enter the bloodstream through any cuts in the mouth.
* There is a famous (for a given value of "famous") poem by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, inventor of the "modern technique" of handgun combat:[softreturn]''A clip is not a magazine[softreturn]A mag is not a clip[softreturn]Neither is a grip a stock[softreturn]And "stock" does not mean "grip".[softreturn][softreturn]I do not mean to nitpick[softreturn]But improvement might be seen[softreturn]If we could bring ourselves to say[softreturn]Exactly what we mean.''
** A '''clip''' and a '''magazine''' are often used interchangeably, but military terminology is that a clip feeds a magazine (or the cylinder of a revolver) quickly; a magazine feeds into the weapon itself. A removable magazine is often referred to as a clip even by military sources, however.
*** This was highlighted early in 2014 when a California state senator delivered a press conference tirade where he kept using "30 calibre clip" and "30 magazine clip" to characterize the supposed firing speed of a gun.
** A '''stock''' is the part of a rifle, shotgun, or occasionally SMG or pistol that is braced against the shoulder; a '''grip''' is the part that is actually, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin gripped]]—it's specifically the part of the gun that is held by the hand that pulls the trigger, and includes the trigger itself (though sometimes also used as a shortened form of "foregrip", the part of a long gun that is held by the off-hand to steady the weapon). The stock and grip are together part of the '''receiver''', the framework that holds the whole thing together (often called a '''frame''' on handguns).
*** To make things more confusing, in most classic rifles (i.e. non-automatic), a ''stock'' refers to the large wooden (or plastic) part all the metal parts (barrel, bolt and trigger assembly) are connected to. In this case, a part of stock behind the grip that is put against shooter's shoulder would be a 'butt'.
** A '''bullet''' is the metal slug fired from a gun. A '''cartridge''' or '''round''' is the unfired ammunition. A '''casing''' is the spent part of the cartridge ejected otherwise. Referring to unfired cartridges as bullets is a classic error. Similarly, '''shot''' is what's fired from a ''shotgun''. '''Shell''' can be both the unfired ammo and the spent casing.
*** To be extra confusing, old style cannon fired '''shot''' (solid projectiles) and '''shells''' (explosive projectiles). Explosive projectiles are still called shells.
** A '''barrel''' is the tube a bullet travels down when fired; before firing, the bullet sits (contained in a cartridge, see above) in a '''chamber'''. Revolvers have multiple chambers which rotate in a '''cylinder'''; other guns load their chambers (or "chamber rounds") from their magazines.
* For small arms, '''caliber''' means the width of the barrel at the narrowest point. "High caliber" is not, in fact, a way of saying "high power". E.g. A 7.62x39mm round fired from an AKM will not impart as much energy to a target as a 7.62x54mm round fired from a SVD Dragunov, nor will the 9x19mm Parabellum round impart as much energy as the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round.
** Another way to think of it is that a "high caliber bullet" will ''generally'' be fired from a bigger gun. However, caliber has nothing to do with strength ''by itself'' - if anything, the length of the cartridge (i.e. how much space there is in the casing for gunpowder behind the bullet) has more to do with the energy the bullet imparts on a target than the diameter of the bullet. If you're trying to say that a high caliber hand gun is more powerful than a low caliber rifle, chances are that you're ''wrong''. Unless you want to get into the specifics of grain count, rifling twist, bullet velocity and weight, you're better off assuming that handguns are less powerful than rifles.
*** To put it another way, "caliber" is absolutely not the same thing as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stopping_power#Energy_transfer "stopping power"]]. A small-caliber bullet fired from a high-powered rifle is a lot more likely to kill you than a large-caliber bullet fired at a much slower speed -- the latter bulldozes its way through the entire region via [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrostatic_shock hydrostatic shock]]; the former punctures its way through a narrow path. Kinetic energy is a function of the mass times the ''square'' of the speed.
** On the same subject, '''bore''' and '''caliber''' are not necessarily interchangeable. Traditionally for rifled weaponry, especially rifled artillery, "bore" denotes the number of turns in the number of calibers (i.e. how many times the width of the projectile down the barrel the projectile must travel to have one complete turn imparted on it by the rifling). So a rifled late Victorian artillery piece with one turn per 38 calibers is a 38 bore, but a smoothbore early Victorian cannon is a zero bore. To confuse matters further, in the UK the word "bore" is also used to mean the same as "gauge" in regards to shotguns: a measure of barrel diameter based upon the weight of a solid lead ball that will fit perfectly into the barrel, expressed as the denominator of a vulgar fraction of a pound if the numerator is one. Thus if the largest lead ball you can fit into the shotgun barrel weighs one twelfth of a pound, you have a 12-bore (or, in the US, 12-gauge) shotgun.
** To confuse matters, there are two separate meanings of the phrase "high-caliber," one of which means larger bullets, and the older of which means "fits the mold ideally." Therefore in other usage, higher caliber always means "better," but in guns it's just a straight technical term with no better/worse meaning.
** To confuse the situation even further, the term caliber is also used to indicate barrel length of artillery pieces, especially naval artillery. So when one refers to a 5"/ 38 caliber gun, one is referring to a gun with a barrel that is one caliber, or 5", internal diameter, and 38 calibers, or 190" long.
* '''Point-blank''' does not mean "at very close range". Point-blank refers to the maximum distance between a firearm and its target before one's aim needs to be adjusted for elevation. Of course, for field artillery or naval guns designed to launch shells in long parabolic arcs, that ''is'' quite a close range. For handguns or rifles, not so much.
* The word '''factoid''' is often used as if it meant "little fact" or "trivia," as in "here's a little factoid for you". It actually means "[[LittleKnownFacts something resembling a fact but with no evidence to support it]]"[[note]]"Factoids ... that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority." [N. Mailer, "Marilyn," 1973][[/note]], much like ''android'' is 'something that resembles a man'. Amusingly, this can often make the word more appropriate than the speaker's intention.
* '''[[RoyalBlood Royalty]]''' is not the same as '''[[BlueBlood nobility]]''' or '''gentry'''. Royalty is basically the nearest family of a ruler, while nobles are descendants of knights and landowners. There could be royal dukes and noble dukes. Gentry is somewhere between a subclass of nobility and a category of its own, as people in that class usually own land and are descended from well-established and well-connected families, but don't have hereditary titles or offices.
* '''Ironic''' doesn't (simply) mean "funny", "unexpected", "coincidental" or "cruel." See {{Irony}} for more on the subject, and IsntItIronic for more on the misuse.
** And on a similar note, '''cynicism''' isn't "sarcastic but more". Sarcasm is mocking, cynicism is jaded negativity.
*** And before '''cynicism''' got its current meaning, it was a Greek philosophy which taught that happiness is independence. From as much as possible - pleasures, law, other people...
* '''Impeach''' does not mean to remove someone from office. Impeachment is the process by which an individual is put on trial for unlawful activity. So Congress did not "''try'' to impeach" Bill Clinton, they did. He was not removed from office, though.
** In the legal context, it means to attack someone's credibility. At trial, both lawyers are trying to impeach the other's witnesses and it has nothing to do with elected office.
* '''Irregardless'''. While taken literally it could mean "not regardless", its usage is near-invariably as an erroneous synonym of "regardless." Linguists often refer to this fairly common phenomenon as "overnegation". In a case of ''actual'' irony, this is almost the exclusive purview of [[DelusionsOfEloquence people trying to sound more literate than they are, and achieving the exact opposite]]. In a case of ''further'' irony, you're vastly more likely to encounter this word in a style guide or as part of a joke than you are to ever hear anyone using it naïvely; we're calling out people who "don't know the language" by accusing them of using what was originally a non-word, even in a descriptivist sense. It is so common that the SAT has at least one question per writing section testing it. It is usually under the hardest questions, too. The Brothers Chaps lampooned this in their ''VideoGame/PeasantsQuest'' flash game by using the word "irredisregardless". The funny thing is, despite the word having no precedent, it's a triple negative, so it's technically correct.
* A '''Scientific Theory''' is [[GravityIsOnlyATheory not a guess, hypothesis, or conjecture.]] It's an established framework of one or more hypotheses with a significant body of evidence backing it. In other words, it's been "proven" to the extent it can be. If a model makes accurate predictions and is consistent with testing and/or observation it can eventually be called a theory, while the word hypothesis is reserved for an idea that you think might work but you haven't had the chance to rigorously test yet. As for why the word theory is used rather than, say, fact or law, this is simply a result of the general understanding that any theory may be incomplete or inaccurate. \\
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This doesn't mean we have any doubts about the validity of the theory itself, but that we may not know everything about it. Gravity is a good example, gravity is "only a theory". That is, our model of how gravity works may not be entirely correct; in fact we know it isn't, since our current theory does not incorporate quantum effects. That doesn't stop gravity from being real. Similarly evolution simply means change, and in the context of biology simply means change from one generation to the next in terms of genetic makeup. Our current theory of how species evolve through natural selection is a theory because the model may not be perfect, but the fact that organisms change from generation to generation is an observable fact. \\
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Incidentally, even in non-scientific usage the word '''theory''' did not always mean guess. If you look at how, say, Literature/SherlockHolmes would use the word theory, it would be a model explaining a crime, which is based on evidence, is testable, and has explanatory powers.
** It should be noted that this word is now subject to a misconception of the opposite sign, as a result of an overzealous response to the above mistake. The word "theory" does not imply that an idea is unproven, but neither does it imply that it is proven: it really doesn't say anything about the degree of confidence in it. For example, the theory of phlogiston is a thoroughly disproven scientific theory on combustion. It's still a theory, i.e. a system of ideas that aims to explain scientific phenomena on the basis of general principle - it's just that nobody believes in it any more.
** The core "essence" of a proper theory (and by extension hypothesis) is it has the property of ''falsifiability.'' This merely means that it's possible to construct a repeatable experiment to test ''if'' it's wrong. The actual outcome (proven correct or proven wrong) is irrelevant.
** As a further, a scientific '''law''' doesn't mean it's "more proven" than a theory. A law is (loosely) is something derived from a theory to cover a certain point. If your theory were "[[Series/{{Torchwood}} Jack Harkness]] is the sexiest creature in existence." then a one law might be "If you are in Jack Harkness' presence for more than 31.2 seconds, you ''will'' snog him." In more scientific the classic e=mc^2 is a law derived from the Theory of Relativity.
* The word '''Decimate''' is very frequently used a synonym of words like destroy, annihilate, or obliterate. Its actual definition is literally to destroy one tenth of something. [[note]]And being more pedantic, its a form of punishment used on Roman legions where legionaries draw straws and 1/10th are killed[[/note]]. The definition has loosened to mean, "kill a large percentage of" but it's still wrong to use it to mean "almost destroyed" or "completely destroyed" like some people do.
* The words '''racism''', '''prejudice''' and '''stereotype''' are often confused. Racism is defined as any policy or belief based in whole or in part on the pseudo-scientific theory that all humanity consists of biologically distinct races and that every member of each race has the distinct physical and/or behavioral characteristics of that race[[note]] Genetically, there are either tens of thousands of races or none, depending on whether you want to go for meaningful biological differences (none) or extremely minor ones (tens of thousands). The main problem with "racial" theory is that races aren't distinct, and not all the members of the supposed "races" have the characteristics they're supposed to have. [[/note]]. Prejudice means the belief that "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice a group of people [are] characterized by their race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion]]." Stereotypes, on the other hand, are "generalizations of existing characteristics that reduce complexity" (also copied from Wiki/TheOtherWiki). So, the belief of the USA's 'Southern' slave-owners that anyone who was not an Anglo-Saxon European was by default of an inferior race was racism, the belief of Anglo-Saxon settlers that the USA's Amerindian peoples were savages was prejudice, and the belief that all Canadians constantly say "eh" is a stereotype. Stereotype is a ''neutral term''; often when people use the term in a pejorative manner, it is to attack a ''lazy'' stereotype -- that is, a blanket statement that assumes homogeny among an entire spectrum of demographic.
** Similarly, people often use '''discrimination''' to mean negative treatment based on prejudice. In fact, discrimination simply means ''any'' differential treatment, regardless of what such differentiation is based on or whether such treatment is positive or negative. Which is why we have an article for PositiveDiscrimination. Discrimination can and is perfectly rational and justifiable in many situations: for instance, the practice of hiring the more qualified candidate for a job is a form of discrimination. Another example would be to discriminate between foods one likes and doesn't like (i.e. ordering the strawberry shortcake over the apple pie because you do not like cinnamon)--this last sort of "discrimination" is why "discriminating" is a compliment in dealing with matters of taste (e.g. the ''discriminating'' wine-drinker can tell the ''Grand Cru'' Bordeaux from the [[ATankardOfMooseUrine plonk]], and is considered to have Good Taste because he "discriminates" in favour of the former over the latter). You will often see this used correctly in military contexts. If armed forces are said to be indiscriminate, they have crossed the MoralEventHorizon.
** Finns have become really, really bad at misusing "racism" ("rasismi") in the past ten years or so. People talk about "age racism" or "fat racism" or god forbid, even "sex racism" because they think "racism" just means "discrimination". Part of this stems from the English loanword "rasismi" replacing the old, 100% Finnish word "rotusyrjintä" (literally "race discrimination"). Nobody in their right mind would use a term like "ikärotusyrjintä" ("age race discrimination"), but "ikärasismi", "age racism" is ridiculously popular.
** '''Bigotry''' is often generalized into discrimination of any kind. In actuality, [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bigotry bigotry]] is merely intolerance of beliefs other than one's own. Other factors, such as race, are not relevant to the designation.
* There appears to be a confusion about the words '''sexism''' and '''misogyny'''. Sexism is discrimination and stereotyping based on sex, and encompasses all forms of discrimination based on sex (indeed, even men who believe that women are inherently better than men, for example). '''Misogyny''' and '''misandry''' are hatred of women and men respectively. Some dictionaries have expanded this to include deep-seated prejudice against women or men respectively (so a womanizer who sees women only as sex objects would be a misogynist, despite his claims to love women).
* '''UsefulNotes/{{Feminism}}''' often gets misused for '''misandry'''. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men and nothing more. Unfortunately, due to a VocalMinority of feminists who tend to skew issues into an "us vs them" rhetoric, their advocacy for equality is often conflated with outright hatred for men.
* There is some confusion as to what a '''Justification''' is in the wiki's jargon, due to the everyday use of the term in Administrivia/JustifyingEdit. A JustifiedTrope ''does not'' require a Administrivia/JustifyingEdit. A trope is justified when the in-universe explanation for its use makes sense in context. A Administrivia/JustifyingEdit is just a fan of a work complaining that another editor [[FelonyMisdemeanor dared]] list that work under [[Administrivia/TropesAreTools a particular trope page]].
* '''Polygamy''' is "marriage of one person to more than one spouse" (to distinguish it from "group marriage"). It is not just a synonym for "polygyny", "marriage of a man to more than one wife". Most arguments brought up in response to "What's wrong with polygamy?" (e.g., "It oppresses women") are just irrelevant to "polyandry", "marriage of a woman to more than one husband". (And not just because "polyandrists do not exist", which is also factually incorrect.)
* A '''Battleship''' is a combat vessel that relies primarily on large caliber guns (11 inches or bigger) to do damage and is armored to withstand guns of equal power, if not greater power. It is not any ship meant to do battle, that would be a '''Warship'''. Nobody builds or uses battleships anymore[[note]]The last used were the American ''Iowa'' class[[/note]] (though several are preserved as museums) because missiles and aircraft carriers have rendered their construction uneconomical.
* While we're at it, a '''Cruise Ship''' and a '''Cruiser''' are very different types of ships. A cruiser is a medium-sized, long-range military vessel while a cruise ship is a passenger ship designed for pleasure cruises. Scifi writers screw this one up all the time [[SpaceIsAnOcean when naming spaceships,]] to the point that it's not unheard-of for one setting to use the terms both correctly and incorrectly.
* You can only ''truly'' '''plead the Fifth''' in a particularly bad court of HollywoodLaw. The correct phrase is to "TAKE the Fifth" (for those non-Americans unaffected by the EaglelandOsmosis: "The Fifth" is the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, one clause of which protects against self-incrimination; better known as [[ReadingYourRights "you have the right to remain silent"]]). Pleading in a criminal prosecution[[note]]In a civil action, pleading is "the pleadings": the plaintiff's complaint (i.e. "the defendant did this, and this, and this, and that's such-and-such tort/breach of contract/other issue) and the defendant's answer to that complaint (which usually consists of responding to the complaint point-by-point by saying "Admitted" or "Denied" but can also be quite complicated--the least complicated being the common "This is a conclusion of law requiring no response, but to the extent it alleges any fact it is denied.").[[/note]] requires a '''plea''', most often "not guilty" or "guilty". (There's also ''nolo contendere'', "no contest": "I didn't do it, but I will not fight the charges," usually done to avoid civil liability on the grounds of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_judicata res judicata/collateral estoppel]]--particularly when the criminal penalty is relatively light but the damages in a subsequent civil suit will be ''massive'' if the case goes against you.)
** While 'The Fifth' is not a plea, most courts will understand the statement "I plead the fifth" as a suspect explicitly invoking their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. According to the Supreme Court, while a suspect must explicitly invoke the right, "No ritualistic formula is necessary in order to invoke the privilege" ([[https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/349/155/ Quinn v. United States, 349 U. S. 155, 164 (1955)]]).
* Similarly (and technically), '''pleading insanity''' is shorthand used outside of court for pleading "not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect".
** Also worth noting is that one cannot be '''diagnosed''' as insane, because insanity is a legal concept, not a medical one. Even if a medical professional determines a person is mentally ill, a court must decide if that mental illness is legally relevant. In general, while having a mental illness or severe cognitive difficulty is an element of the court's decision, at the end of the day you are '''adjudicated''' insane, not diagnosed as such.[[note]]In the English-speaking countries, there are four standards for determining whether someone is legally insane. The oldest, called the ''M'Naghten'' rule after a case where the defendant believed the person he was shooting was Sir UsefulNotes/RobertPeel, articulates the rule that you (1) had a "mental disease or defect" such that (2) you either didn't understand what it was you were doing or didn't know that it was wrong. Some US states thought this too harsh, and changed the rule to be that (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect and (2) it created an "irresistible impulse" to perform the criminal act. In TheSixties, some US states ''still'' thought this was too harsh, so they said that if (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect and (2) that mental disease or defect "caused" you to commit the crime, you were insane. Finally, the authors of the Model Penal Code, an American attempt (mostly failed) at unifying the 50 states' criminal laws, thought that both the ''M'Naghten'' rule and the "irresistable impulse" rule made good points, sort of combined the two, stating that if (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect such that (2) you could not (a) understand what you were doing OR (b) that it was wrong OR (c) you could not "conform [your] conduct to the law", the defense would be applicable.[[/note]] Similarly, on the civil side, you can also be adjudicated legally incompetent to do any number of things (to sign a contract, to commit a tort, to make a will, to serve as trustee of a trust); although the standard for that is a lot lower--"incompetence" can include moderate senility, for example--it is possible to have some kind of mental illness or cognitive difficulty and still be deemed legally competent to handle one's own affairs.
** Similarly, '''insanity''' means someone being mentally ill or being extremely illogical/foolish. Most people use the pop culture version taken from ''VideoGame/FarCry3'' where a character states that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting things to change". While someone who is mentally ill can exhibit such a behavior, it is not what insanity is all about.
* The phrase "'''compare and contrast'''" is redundant. '''Contrasting''' involves comparing—contrasting is comparing only the differences, while '''comparing''' in the broader sense may also note similarities. This error in rampant in this very wiki.
* '''Exponentially''' means "increasing at a rate which is also increasing", not merely "increasing" and certainly not "a lot". Mathematically speaking, "exponentially more" refers only to the difference between the rates of increase of two functions, and has a much more specific meaning than "this is growing faster than that"[[note]]The mathematical meaning of "exponentially more/less" is about the asymptotic complexity of a function equal to the difference between two functions. (More specifically, a function f(x) is said to be "exponentially greater" than another function g(x) if their difference (f(x) - g(x)) is a function that has the same asymptotic complexity as some function h(x) that grows exponentially with x. Another, probably more common definition is that their ratio (f(x)/g(x)) grows faster than any power of x. If one starts to be pedantic, the latter is called super-polynomial, and most people insist on using ratios (2^x doesn't really grow faster than 2* 2^x)) This means that it's incorrect to say that something is "exponentially more/less" than something else when the two things being compared are just constant quantities, rather than quantities that increase as functions of some variable (such as time).[[/note]] Values that stay the same or increase at steady rate are not, by definition, "exponentially" ''anything''. Most people who say this mean "orders of magnitude greater". An "order of magnitude" is (usually) ten times[[note]]Mathematically speaking, an order of magnitude is a factor of whatever the base value is. Saying that it is "usually ten times" reflects the generic standard that most mathematics is done in base ten. An order of magnitude in binary, for example, would be a factor of 2, while an order of magnitude in hexadecimal would be a factor of 16, ''et cetera''.[[/note]], so more than one would be 100 times, 1000 times, or more. That said, a quantity that is ten times larger than its starting value after one year, 100 times larger after two years, and 1000 times larger after three, can be said to be growing "exponentially" as the relation between value N and time t is one of N=10^t or N≈44.7e^t.
* A '''quantum''' is a discrete unit of something. Therefore, when Film/JamesBond finds his Film/QuantumOfSolace, he doesn't feel that much better[[note]]Which was how it was meant in [[Literature/ForYourEyesOnly the original story]]. The idea was that when the last quantum of solace is removed from a relationship a man might do anything[[/note]]. A quantum ''leap'' is a change directly from one state to another, without any defined intermediate states happening along the way. The distance leaped over does not need to be the smallest possible. [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1554.html Some pedants have not quite grasped this]].
** To better describe, think of the word "quantity". When you have a quantity of something, i.e. a specific number of units of it, those units are ''quanta''. In physics, a quantum specifically means "the minimum amount of a physical entity involved in a physical interaction" (from Wiki/TheOtherWiki).
* '''Inflammable''' is not an antonym to '''flammable'''; it's a synonym. The antonym is '''non-flammable'''. (Granted, this is played for comedy more often than it's used seriously...)
** The confusion here is mostly due to the fact that inflammable (derived from "inflame") doesn't come from the typical [in-] negation, it comes from [en-], to give or receive. "Flammable" is actually the newer word, created because people knew that this exact mistake would be made. It makes sense once you consider that the archaic ''enflame'' is similar to enrage and enjoy.
** [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons "Inflammable means flammable? What a country!"]]
** [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 "Flammable! Or inflammable, forget which. Doesn't matter!"]]
** '''Creator/GeorgeCarlin''': "Flammable... inflammable... non-inflammable. Why are there three of them? Either it flams or it doesn't!"
** [[VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing "It tries to set your face on fire, but you're inflammable."]] Wait, that means flammable. You're [[BuffySpeak "un-light-on-fire-able."]]
*** Of course, if someone ''did'' successfully light your face on fire, you'd suffer '''inflammation''', which is a physiological response to injury. So you'd be '''inflamed''' as well as inflammable.
* '''Mano a mano''' is a commonly used Spanish and Italian term that translate as "hand to hand," (which means the same thing as in English, but with a connotation of "evenly matched"). It '''does not''' means "man to man"[[note]]as two man on man kisses were described at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards[[/note]]. This is what is known in linguistics as a false friend. Sincerely saying that you want to settle things "mano a mano" before [[NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight pulling out a gun is an example.]]
** Although, technically in some countries people shorten the word "hermano" (brother) to just "mano". So it could also be "brother to brother" ("hermano" or "mano" has been used as an identifier even if the person in question is not a sibling at all.)
** Even worse is when someone says "mano y mano" which is hand and hand, making no sense in relation to fighting, and even less sense when they think they are saying "man and man". [[HoYay Unless...]]
* The word '''whom''' is used by many as simply "who, but fancier." "Whom" is a ''direct or indirect object'', so if you ever see someone use it otherwise ("Whom are you?" for example), they're futzing it up. As a general rule, replace the usage of "whom" with "them" (and, correspondingly, "who" with "they") and see if it still makes sense.
** "Whom" is used to describe people something happens ''to'', and "who" describes people who ''do'' something. You might ask about a proposed business deal, "Who affects the deal?" and "Whom does the deal affect?"
* "Wherefore", as in Shakespeare's ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', does not mean "where", but "why"; "wherefore" is to "therefore" as "what" is to "that". Juliet was not wondering where Romeo was, but rather wondering why the man she loved had to be Romeo, one of her family's hated rivals. (Juliet's whole thing in the balcony scene is a meditation on the meaninglessness of labels.)
* People have been told not to say "Me and Joe went to the park", but "Joe and I ...". For too many, this has morphed to a general anxiety around the word "me", so they always use '''and I'''. This is a mistake. "He saw Joe and I" is wrong (it should be "Joe and ''me''").
** "I" is when you are the subject, and "me" is when you're an object. This does not change if you are accompanied by someone else.
** First person singular pronouns always go after anything else when multiple subjects or objects are involved, so "I and ..." is never correct. (This is courtesy, not grammar.)
** If you have trouble knowing whether or not to say "I" or "me", [[https://youtu.be/N4vf8N6GpdM?t=67 take out the other person/thing/whatever and see if the sentence still makes sense]]. ("Joe and I went to the park" changes to "I went to the park", not "Me went to the park")
** This is only the case in formal English, however. In discourse, almost all speakers will accept "Me and Joe went to the park" as an informal but grammatical variant. "Me and Joe" is somewhat more common than "Joe and me", an interesting inversion of the above "first person last" rule.
** Similarly, "He saw Joe and I" is used consistently by some speakers of e.g. Northern Californian English. This is probably hypercorrection in avoiding "me" entirely, as noted above, which has been adopted into the dialect.
** People who have been told that ''and I'' is not a panacea will often abuse the word '''myself'''. This is a mistake as well. Myself is ''reflexive'' -- when you're both the subject and the object. "I wet myself", "I touch myself" and "I cut myself" are all okay (grammatically, that is). "Please send the memo to Joe and myself" is wrong. You mean "... to Joe and me."
** Settling this and the above immediate point of grammatical confusion: In all cases where you list any series of individuals, ending with "and I/me", the way you settle the "I vs. me" is to eliminate everyone else from the list and isolate the "I/me". For instance, "Joseph, Victoria, and I went to the amusement park and rode the Thunderstrike," is correct because "I went to the amusement park..." would also be correct. Similarly, "Grandma Robinson regularly sent Joseph, Victoria, and me $5 checks on our birthdays," is also correct because "Grandma Robinson regularly sent me..." would also be correct.
** Possessives can get awkward as well, such as the cringeworthy "Joe and I's apartment." If you absolutely cannot get away with "Me and Joe's apartment," and the context isn't clear enough to just say "Our apartment," then the correct formal phrasing would be "Joe's and my apartment" for the same reasons listed above: "Joe's apartment" and "My apartment" are both correct by themselves.
* Ah, '''passive''' is another great example. Passive is a ''voice'', not a ''tense''. Similarly, '''indicative''' and '''subjunctive''' are ''moods'', not tenses.
** Also, people tend to confuse progressive aspect with passive voice. "I was kicking the ball" is not in the passive voice. "The ball was kicked by me" is.
*** A quick and easy way to identify passive voice- can you add "by [whatever]" after the verb/is it already there? Thus, you get "His brains were eaten (by [[EverythingsDeaderWithZombies zombies]])"- passive voice, "Zombies were eating his brains (by zombies)"- not passive voice.
*** Well, the examples in [[http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html#11 Strunk and White]] are a little painful, but not as painful as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime movement to discard passives and all other uses of "be"]].
* A '''vaccine''' is a weakened form of a disease that trains the body how to fight that disease. As mentioned in MagicAntidote, though, people tend to simply replace it with the word "cure." A weakened form of the disease is ''not'' going to help you if you're undergoing the eleventh hour of the full-blown symptoms. It will just make things worse.
** A therapeutic use of a vaccine is most likely to actually be a '''sero-vaccine''', that is a mix between the '''vaccine''' and a '''serum''' containing antibodies against whatever ails the person being treated.
** Originally, "vaccine" specifically meant the ''smallpox'' vaccine. The ''vacc-'' prefix means "cow". It's derived directly from ''vaccinia'' — the cowpox virus — from which the inoculation was originally derived.
*** As an aside, the first person treated with Pasteur's anti-rabies vaccine very likely already had the rabies, the vaccine enabling him to fight the infection. (This is more of a quirk of rabies than anything, it has a very long incubation period meaning that you can vaccinate after exposure. The vaccine is still not a cure.)
* '''Bemused''' has nothing to do with being "amused" -- in fact it means "utterly confused."
** Similarly, '''Nonplussed''' does not mean "aloof" or "unimpressed". It means "bewildered".
*** Or "unperturbed". Non-reacting due to confusion, or just non-reacting.
* '''Slander''' and '''libel''' tend to be used interchangeably. Libel is defamation in the form of ''written'' words, while slander is defamation in the form of ''spoken'' words. '''Defamation''' is a catch-all that covers both. With the advent of the Internet and lower barriers to publishing, the definitions are changing, but libel is generally public postings and slander is generally private words.
** The distinction (in the UK at least) comes from the permanence of the defamatory statement. If I said it to someone in a restaurant it's slander. If it happened to be inadvertently recorded and put in a movie soundtrack or written in an article, it's libel.
*** A.P. Herbert took this to the length of parody in "The Lawyer's Dream", where a bench of judges are arguing interminably about whether an audio recording is libel or slander?
** Mentioned in the first ''Film/SpiderMan1'' movie, as follows:
--->'''Peter Parker:''' Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city... he was trying to save it. That's slander.\\
'''J. Jonah Jameson:''' It is not. I resent that. [[ITakeOffenseToThatLastOne Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.]]
** Also note for EaglelandOsmosis purposes that in all civil-law jurisdictions and many common-law ones (e.g. Virginia), slander and libel do not exist/have been merged and there is only "defamation" to cover injury arising from false statements, whether spoken or written. Also note that even in common-law jurisdictions that still respect the distinction, the only significant difference (in most jurisdictions) is in the proof needed for damages: with libel, all you need to show is "general" damages, i.e. put forward a good-faith estimate as to how much the damage to your reputation has cost you, but with slander, you need to prove "special" damages, i.e. need to point to at least one situation in which the injury to reputation had actually and directly harmed you (e.g. cost you a job) before you can collect anything (although if you can prove special damages, you can usually collect general damages as well).
* In {{Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game}}s, people often say, "Spell X has been '''casted'''" or "I have casted spell X". There is no word "casted". The word "cast" covers both present and past tenses. So both, "I will cast spell X on the monster" and "I have cast spell X on the monster" are the correct forms. The same conjugation is also used regardless of the specific thing or person being cast: Some sculptures are cast, actors are cast in movies.
* '''Puritanical''' means keeping "practicing or enforcing strict religious behavior." Its only tangentially related to anything sex related, and most certainly does not mean enforcing current laws about the age of consent (which in most countries is higher than the age specified in the dominant religion and derived from quite secular legislation). This does not stop more than a few pedophiles from calling such laws "puritanical."
* Another mistake frequently made in fantasy contexts is the conjugation of '''slay'''. As seen on acres of Disney World merchandise, "I slayed the dragon" is incorrect. "Slay" doesn't work like "play." Instead, it should be "I ''slew'' the dragon." Alternatively, "I ''have slain'' the dragon."
** {{Lampshaded}} in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', where Willow on one occasion had difficulty coming up with the right form. Giles, surprisingly, says either ''slew'' or ''slayed'' will do.
** You do not '''seen''' something. You ''saw'' it, or you ''have seen'' it, but you never '''seen''' it.
*** Most uses of the phrase "I seen it," especially those with enough emphasis to rule out a slurred "I've", are identifying the speaker as a hick.
* '''Inbreeding''' means [[KissingCousins breeding among]] [[BrotherSisterIncest closely related]] [[ParentalIncest individuals]]. Not breeding with members of another group or anything else. The confusion likely comes from the similar-sounding word "interbreeding." But ''in'' or ''intra'' refers to the inside and ''inter'' refers to the outside. [[note]]Other-word example: business between Los Angeles (in California) and Las Vegas (in Nevada) (e.g. an Angelino sells his 1964 Impala to someone in Vegas) is "interstate trade" or "interstate commerce". Business between Los Angeles and San Francisco (also in California) (same Angelino sells same car, but to someone in SF) is "intrastate trade" or "intrastate commerce".[[/note]] By the same token, '''interbreeding''' should not be used to mean marrying your sister.
* Similarly, a '''butler''' is the head of a large household of servants, dealing specifically with the wine cellars -- "butler" is, in fact, a corruption of "bottler". Because Jeeves is Bertie Wooster's only servant, his first job title would be "valet", although butlers may double as valets and vice versa.
** In one story, Jeeves' feelings are actually hurt when he is called on to buttle. That the normally unflappable "gentleman's gentleman" takes offense at something that seems trivial to us says that at one point it was a much more important distinction.
** Additionally, valet, when referring to a gentleman's servant, is always pronounced such that it rhymes with "pallet" or "mallet". Valet prounounced in the French style, such that it rhymes with "chalet", is an attendant who parks your car. In the United States, anyway. In the United Kingdom, they don't seem to make a distinction.
* While we're on the subject, '''claret'''--meaning a type of red Bordeaux wine and its associated colour--is pronounced to rhyme approximately with "merit". The word is a very old English borrowing, deriving from [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff medieval English nobles' love of a kind of dark rosé Bordeaux]] called ''clairet'', which the English eventually changed to "claret" as they began speaking English rather than French as a first language. They eventually began just calling any Bordeaux "claret," and when the preference of the English nobility (who [[UsefulNotes/NationalDrinks still love French wine, especially Bordeaux]]) shifted from a rosé to dark red, the name didn't change. Pronouncing it in the French manner is a hyperforeignism and frowned upon by the people who actually drink it. (You might be forgiven for your first offence if you're from a region or group that isn't familiar with the term--for instance, the same wine marketed as a "claret" in England will just be called a Bordeaux in America--but once you've been warned, you're on your own.)
* '''Interstellar''' means traveling between stars. Earth to Alpha Centauri is interstellar; Earth to Mars is interplanetary (and for heaven's sake not ''intergalactic''). ''Intrastellar'' travel would be travel within a star; ''transstellar'' would be across one; do not try either of these without serious heat shields or cooling tech unless you want to get fried to a crisp[[note]]You'll also get crushed; the sun masses c. 2 nonillion tons and averages half again as dense as water.[[/note]]. If you absolutely want to keep the ''stellar'' root for some reason, you might want to try ''circumstellar'' or ''parastellar'' on for size.
* To '''infer''' and to '''imply''' are different things. Person A may infer that Person B is stupid from the latter's misuse of words. Person A may then imply Person B's stupidity through witticism. Person B's inevitably incorrect response will be "Are you inferring that I'm stupid?" Person B is, in fact, inferring that Person A is implying that Person B is stupid, and they're right.
** The difference has been lampshaded by [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Lisa Simpson]] and [[Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit John Munch]]: "You infer. I imply."
** As annoying as this can be for anyone with an interest in logic or literature, the use of infer to mean "suggest" is in fact ''very'' old; John Dryden is just the most famous writer to have used it that way. The difference between "infer" and "imply" is very useful, but it's actually wishful thinking to claim that the words have always meant different things.
** {{Lampshaded}} and PlayedWith in ''Series/TheDresdenFiles'' TV series:
-->'''Harry''': [[OurDragonsAreDifferent These drakes]], right, they can change shape? They're magical, immortal and all that. But you can change your appearance and you're magical and [stutters] you've been around a long, long time.
-->'''Ancient Mai''': Are you inferring something?
-->'''Harry''': Technically, I'm implying. You're inferring.
-->'''Mai''': Well, it's dangerous either way.
-->'''Harry''': You didn't answer my question.
-->'''Mai''': You didn't ask one. Which, at least, shows some common sense.
** {{Lampshaded}} in ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' Series Two, Episode Three:
-->'''Hugh''': Just tell me, truthfully, did you send that email?
-->'''Terri''': No I didn't... and [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow you know I didn't.]]
-->'''Hugh''': Sorry, are you inferring...?
-->'''Terri''': Implying.
-->'''Hugh''': You're implying that... it was me?
** One of Adam Warren's ''ComicBook/DirtyPair'' short stories has this as its main plot.
** This mistake is one of the [[MinorFlawMajorBreakup minor flaws]] that bother Music/WeirdAlYankovic so much in "Close But No Cigar".
* '''Disinterested''' is ''not'' a synonym for '''uninterested'''; it means, rather, that you are unbiased or have no vested interest.
** Though it wouldn't be unreasonable to be uninterested because you are disinterested.
** A good judge is disinterested; a tough audience is uninterested.
*** Ironically, the earliest recorded use of "disinterested" is in the sense that now belongs to "uninterested".
* A '''light-year''' is a measure of distance: the distance light travels in a year. Many writers have [[UnitConfusion made the mistake]] of using the term to describe a very long period of time. This is the one mistake ''guaranteed'' to infuriate pedants.
** In ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'', the only trainer in the first Gym remarks, "You're light years away from beating Brock!" but then admits "Light years isn't time! It measures distance!" when beaten.
** Of course, often what a pedant interprets as literal but incorrect time could also be figurative and correct distance; a SufficientlyAdvancedAlien might well be light-years more advanced than us if you take it to be a metaphor using distance in place of quantity of technical and scientific knowledge.
*** In fact the construction "light-years ahead" is parallel to "miles ahead". Some pedants need to actually pay attention to the language they're using.
*** Literally, "to advance" is "to move forward", so if we define forward to be the direction of the alien planet, then it is most mechanically literal to interpret that as true, even if the aliens are using rocks. To interpret "advanced" as meaning the aliens have more sophisticated technology and comprehensive scientific knowledge is itself a figurative use of language.
** Of course, it's possible to get this both right [[http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/kw/stars-far-away and wrong at the same time]].
* Similar to "light year", '''parsec''' is short for "parallax second", but is also a measure of distance, not time: 3.3 light years.[[note]]The distance to an object from the Sun if it has a one second yearly wobble in its appearant position in the sky due to being viewed from ''the Earth at different positions in space'' (different sides of the Sun). Even the closest star is a bit further away, meaning its parallax is smaller than one second.[[/note]] "Second" in this case refers to "seconds of arc", ''i.e.'', 1/3600 of a degree = 1/21,600th of a full circle. The ''[[Franchise/StarWars Millennium Falcon]]'' was able to shave ''distance'' off a smuggling run.[[note]]Or, as some fans like to believe, Han Solo was simply talking rubbish. (The original script actually contains stage directions to this effect, i.e. "Obi-Wan reacts with skepticism to Han Solo's attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation"; unfortunately, WordOfGod says it didn't quite come through on-screen, due to some poorly-timed film cuts between Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford.[[/note]]
* '''Conspicuous''' means "obvious," not "suspicious," no matter the way it sounds. Thus, if something was conspicuously absent, you are merely able to notice that it was absent; you do not necessarily have to raise an eyebrow at its absence.
** This may come from a character saying that they need to remain "inconspicuous" while in disguise or something similar. The character wants it to not be obvious they are in a disguise and consequently not be suspicious. Since they can say, "I want to be inconspicuous," or, "I don't want to be suspicious," interchangeably in such a situation, this may be why people equate them.
** By itself, conspicuous may not mean suspicious, but in that particular context it is implied the same as saying something is remarkably or questionably absent.
* '''Fascism''' is a loose political ideology that combines nationalism, militarism, anti-socialism and conservatism ([[EnemyMine insofar as Fascists and Conservatives can both agree that socialism and liberalism are bad]]). It's also associated with [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness anti-conservatism]] (because unlike conservatives they look to the future and not to the past for their ideal end-goal society), futurism, corporatism (i.e. Country-Corporation co-operation), military expansionism, and Social Darwinism. It's not a synonym for authoritarian, since one can be oppressive without being fascist. Most modern people and political parties that don't self-identify as "fascist" probably aren't fascists. Definite no-no's include communists, socialists, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, liberals, libertarians, inter/anti-nationalists, pacifists, the USA's Republican and Democratic Parties, [[Creator/GeorgeOrwell Youth Hostels, Gandhi, women and dogs]]. To be more precise, even people showing antisemitic or xenophobic cannot be called "fascists" indiscriminately, as the original fascism introduced in Italy by Mussolini wasn't heavy on ethnic- or race- based xenophobia (fascists' aggression was usually directed towards their internal political enemies, chiefly the Catholic Trade Unions and Socialist Parties, while also strongly promoting Italian language and culture based nationalism). It was German National Socialism ("Nazism" or "Hitlerism") that introduced the ideas of racial superiority.
* '''Corporatism''' is the doctrine promoted by Mussolini that society should function as a body (Latin: ''corpus'') in which each of the various sectors of society (government, business, labor, etc.) are treated as "organs" within the body, interdependent and working toward the betterment of the whole. The term can include big business, but is broader than a simple collusion between business and government; "corporatism" has absolutely nothing to do with the English word "corporation."
** Relatedly, '''corporate personhood''' does not refer to letting companies vote or adopt children the way individual citizens can. It means a group of people ("a body") are treated as one person for administrative and certain legal purposes (particularly certain economic rights, including, most importantly, the right to enter into contracts and the right to sue and be sued). Perhaps ironically, "abolishing corporate personhood," if done without extremely fine precision, could ban labor unions, Indian tribes petitioning for reparations, and class-action lawsuits.
** And while we're at it, '''Corporation'''(public) and a '''Limited Liability Company'''(private) are two different things. Most people haven't even heard of the latter but their rights are the ones people often attribute "Corporate Personhood." To summarize, from a financial, and only financial, standpoint, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a person. This is because the whole reason [=LLCs=] even exist is so that a person can create a bufferzone between their business and their personal wealth. I.E. so no one can sue your local Mom and Pop coffee house for all their worth if their coffee ends up being too hot. Corporations do not have all of the same privileges that [=LLCs=]. For example a corporation can't discriminate on who it hires but an LLC ''can.'' On the other hand, [=LLC=] don't enjoy as many tax exemptions as corporations. From a legal perspective an LLC is person who enjoys the same, no more no less, privileges as an individual doing business.
* Strictly speaking, there is no single period in prehistory called '''[[OneMillionBC the Stone Age]]'''. The term originates from a listing of the three stages of a prehistoric society: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. In the most literal sense of the term, cowboys fought members of the Stone Age in the Wild Wild West; heck, there were still "Stone Age" people living in isolated parts of the world by the time ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' first went on air. The term is usually limited to Eurasian cultures, which complicates things.
** Strictly speaking, humanity as a whole had a single "Stone Age" (during which no sub-group had advanced beyond stone tools), after which the "Stone Age" becomes a term with more limited application, and terms such as "Bronze Age" began to apply as soon as one group use bronze for this purpose, even though they were the only ones. Likewise, the Stone Age would have begun with the first evidence of stone tools rather than the point at which stone tools become ubiquitous. Arguing otherwise would be akin to stating that we don't really live in the Space Age because most people alive right now have never ventured into space.
** Similarly, '''prehistoric''' does not necessarily mean ancient. "History" is "the study of what ancient people ''wrote'' about themselves," so for something to count as prehistoric, it merely has to predate the invention of writing (which was about 3500 BC). For this reason, there still exists a number of societies today which count as "prehistoric".
** Also, the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age were more a reference to the archaeology of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
* '''Yea''' is an an archaic version of "yes" (sometimes still used in very formal context where one is asked to vote "yea" or "nay"). It is not an alternative spelling of "yeah", and is pronounced differently.
** And cartoonists often confuse it with "Yay!", which sounds the same but is a different word, an interjection expressing delight or enthusiasm. ("Yay/Yea, we won the game!")
** This is very probably simple coincidence due to onomatopoeia. The real instance of this trope would be those who misinterpret the older usage as being the newer usage.
* '''Object''' (the noun acted on by the verb) and '''subject''' (the noun [[BuffySpeak doing the verbing]]) are opposites.
* People use the word '''vagina''' to describe both a woman's vulva (external genitalia) and vagina (internal genitalia). Even the author of ''The Vagina Monologues''.
** Just to avoid making a false equivalency, "vulva" describes the entire external genitalia of the female, while "vagina" is one element of the internal genitalia (which also include the uterus, ovaries, etc).
*** Explained [[http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2003/may/04/v_is_for/ here]].
** Similarly, people seem to use '''Anus''', '''Rectum''' and '''Colon''' interchangeably, when [[ArtisticLicenseBiology they are very different parts of the digestive system with very different functions]]. Look 'em up!
* '''Consequences'''. It's commonly used to mean the negative results of an action; the opposite of a reward or benefit. Its actual definition is ''all'' results of an action, positive ''and'' negative.
* '''Infamous''' is frequently used to mean "very famous," which is far from correct. While it is not the opposite of fame (that would be obscurity), it actually means "having a very bad reputation", as in "the infamous UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper." Don't make the mistake that the Film/ThreeAmigos did when you're asked to meet someone infamous.
** Confusion may also arise from: 1) Deliberately-ambiguous sarcastic use and/or 2) the Jerry Springer effect, i.e. "I want my 15 minutes no matter what I have to do to get it".
** As described above, '''Infamous''' is not an antonym of ''famous''. Just wanted to clear it out: if something is ''infamous'', it actually ''has'' to have at least some (evil) fame.
** It is interesting, because original meaning of this word, now mostly forgotten, meant something different. Infamy was a form of punishment technically stripping the convicted of any legal protection, in other words, [[{{Outlaw}} outlawry]] (in the feudal world 'no fame' meant 'no one heard of him and no one will defend him'). Of course, the infamous had nothing left to lose, so they often were getting infamous in modern sense of this word.
* For another nice self-referencing example, compare the definition of '''{{trope}}''' in any reputable dictionary to the one used on this site. (For the sake of pedantry, assume the other wiki is not reputable.)
** Merriam-Webster agrees with us!
** So does the OED!
* '''Good''' vs '''Well'''. Good is an adjective. Well is an adverb. You look good, because good is describing you. You see well, because well is describing how you see. (You can look well, but in that cause 'well' is being used as measure of health, i.e. the opposite of 'You look ill'.)
** You can also correctly use 'look well' for 'look carefully', or 'look skillfully'. Similarly, the above could correctly describe a product that as part of its function interprets visual data. (A robot or something; if it's solely a camera, then its working is synonymous with its looking, and so it's still incorrect.)
** In ''Series/ThirtyRock'', Tracy Jordan even corrected the resident Harvard grad in the first episode: "No, Superman does good. You do well."
* Some people, including many English teachers, insist that the statement '''I feel bad''' is only correct if it is used to mean that the speaker's sense of touch is functioning improperly, and the proper way to express that one is suffering is to say "I feel badly." This is totally incorrect, and in fact, the reverse is true: in the first case, "bad" is a predicate adjective modifying "I" and linked to it by the linking verb "feel," whereas in the second case, "badly" is an adverb modifying the action verb "feel," and describes how one's sense of touch is functioning. Likewise, the statement "I feel good" is a completely correct response to the question "How are you?", since "good" is, again, a predicate adjective modifying "I"; pedants who insist that one say "I feel well" are incorrect, although that statement is also grammatically correct.
** As a rule, "feel" (in the sense of feeling a certain way), "look" (in the sense of looking a certain way, not looking ''at'' something), "sound", "smell", "taste" and all forms of "to be" ''do not take adverbs'', for the reasons given above.
** Like "no split infinitives," this is another example of a Latin rule being shoehorned into English. In Latin and Romance languages, "good" and "bad" are defining characteristics, akin to "saintly" and "evil" - to say that one is feeling evil today is a far cry from being tired. Instead, "I feel well" or "I feel unwell" (or a more specific feeling) are the typical answers in those languages. In English those words do dual duty as vague placeholders and as strong characteristics.
** This is possibly the best single example on the page that exemplifies the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_language_processing natural language problem]], as well as why SesquipedalianLoquaciousness is sometimes quite justified. (i.e. "I feel bad." becoming "I feel less healthful." or "My epidermis is less sensate.") It's also how someone that WillNotTellALie can also be a ConsummateLiar through clever use of near synonyms, logical misdirection, etc.
* '''Literally''' is often used as a generic intensifier, a "smarter-sounding" substitute for "extremely" or similar. The irony is that the usage is most often figurative, when it ''actually'' means "not figuratively." Example of misuse: "It was literally a slaughter!" in reference to a sporting event, assuming said sport isn't a BloodSport. See LiteralMetaphor. Then there are the people who correct this by saying "You mean 'figuratively'," as in [[http://xkcd.com/725/ this]] ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}''. That's also incorrect, as the desired effect was to speak hyperbolically, and using the word "figuratively" completely removes that meaning; what they really mean to say is an intensifier like "totally".[[note]]Incidentally, this isn't the first time a word has shifted from meaning "not figuratively" to being used as an intensifier. "Very" (from "verily," meaning "true") and "really" also have their roots in words meant to distinguish factual truth from exaggeration. Perhaps in time the original meaning of "literally" will have also become so diluted by being used for emphasis that we'll have to come up with another word to take its place.[[/note]]
* '''Peruse''' means "to read thoroughly", not "to skim."
** [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/peruse The dictionary.com entry has an interesting usage note concerning this]].
* '''Scan''' has been similarly diluted in common usage, perhaps because computers scan things so quickly.
** In language teaching, both ''scan'' and ''skim'' refer to quick-reading techniques: ''scanning'' is quickly reading through a text to find a particular piece of information, whereas ''skimming'' means quickly reading through a text to catch the general gist.
* '''Incredulous''' means "not believing," not "incredible." If someone sees something incredible, then they can be incredulous.
** It helps to think of it this way: the base of the two words is 'credible' (meaning 'can be believed') and the negation prefix 'in'. If something is 'incredible', it is not believable, or unbelievable (similar to 'fantastical'. If you are being 'incredulous', you are being the opposite of credulous (which means 'easily believing'), not treating something with credulity, or you don't believe it.
** Another mnemonic: In general ''people'' are incredulous while ''things'' are incredible.
** In ''Film/TheAccidentalTourist'', it's pointed out that '''lacking credence''' is the proper use of the word.
* The difference between "rob" and "steal": You '''rob''' a person when you '''steal''' their property.
** Technically, robbery is defined more narrowly than this: it's taking someone's goods by threat of violence. But yes, it's never correct to say "My wallet got robbed" or "He robbed my wallet", but "I was robbed of my wallet" is correct.
*** If someone solely stole the money without stealing the wallet itself, one could argue that the wallet was robbed of its money. This would also apply if the victim were a self-aware wallet.
** "Burglary" is a different kind of theft from "Robbery". If you leave your wallet at home, and when you get back, discover that it was ''stolen'', you've been ''burgled''. Or "burglarized" if you're in the United States.
*** Legally speaking, burglary doesn't have to involve stealing (larceny and theft cover those). Burglary is the entrance of a building with the intent to commit a crime therein. You don't even have to actually complete the act you entered the building to do. If Alice enters Bob's house with the intent to murder Bob (or steal from him, assault him, or write a bad check while sitting on his couch), she has committed burglary, whether or not she actually does the deed. In some areas, [[{{Thoughtcrime}} even if you change your mind about committing the crime once you're inside,]] you can still be on the hook for burglary. As a result, burglary is a favorite of prosecutors as it can be added as a charge to many different acts. The case law of what constitutes "building" and "entry" can get a little silly.
* The term "Assault and Battery" exists because the two represent different parts of the same act. '''Assault''' is a a threat which suggests that "immediate harmful contact" will occur; '''battery''' occurs upon contact. Swinging a bat at somebody is assault. Hitting somebody with a bat is battery. Consequently, the latter usually depends on the former, except when the threat is unknown until contact. Generally, the contact doesn't have to be violent; the rule is that any unwelcome ''touching'' is battery (although as a practical matter you have to meet a certain threshold in order to get the authorities to prosecute). An unwanted pie in the face or kiss on the cheek constitutes assault and battery; thus some statutes on sexual assault actually call it "sexual battery" on the theory that you're punishing the touching, not the threat.
** Different jurisdictions have different definitions. Example: what the MPC and the above call "Battery" is called "Assault" in Delaware, and what the above calls "Assault" is named "Menacing".
** Bear in mind that both assault and battery are not only crimes, they are also civil torts in most [[UsefulNotes/TheCommonLaw common-law]] jurisdictions. This means that you can be prosecuted by the state and sued for damages by the victim for one act. Battery suits often address things that the state just lets slip; in one case frequently used in law schools (''Garratt v. Dailey''), an old woman successfully sued a five-year-old boy for $11,000 (in 1952 money!) after she got a hip fracture when he moved a chair she was trying to sit in.
* "'''Affect'''" and "'''effect'''": In ''general'' terms, "effect" is usually a noun and "affect" is usually a verb. However, there are actually ''five'' words there, not two.
** af-FECT (v) - To have influence on. "The heavy rains affected the water level."
** af-FECT (v) - To pretend, often to pretend to have a degree of sophistication. "At the wine club, Bob affected a fake French accent to be a douche."
*** This is also the base word of "affectation," or a behavior adopted to evoke that air of sophistication. "Even though Bob is from America, he crosses his 7s as an affectation."
** AF-fect (n) - Usually only used in psychology circles, and it's basically a term for an emotional response.
** Effect (n) - A consequence or result of something. "The effect of all the heavy rain was flooding."
** Effect (v) - To create a change. "Due to the flooding, the city effected changes in flood channel construction."
** The things you carry on your person (in your purse or pockets) are your "personal ''effects''"
* Off the northwestern coast of Europe are the '''British Isles''', a collection of two large and many small islands, the largest of which is '''(Great) Britain''' and the second largest of which is '''Ireland'''. Together they contain two countries: the '''United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland''' and '''Ireland''' (called the "Republic of Ireland" to differentiate it from the island, of which it covers about five-sixths.) The United Kingdom is a country composed of four constituent countries: '''Scotland''', '''Wales''', '''Northern Ireland''' and '''England'''. '''Cornwall''' is a politically united but culturally distinct area within England. There also exists the '''Isle of Man''', the '''Bailiwick of Guernsey''', and the '''Bailiwick of Jersey''', which are not part of the United Kingdom, but which have its Queen as their sovereign and which the UK provides for the military defence thereof. It is confusing but please, for your own safety, NEVER use ''England'' to refer to anything besides the land south of the River Tweed and east of the Rivers Vyrnwy and Tamar (Cornwall may be a more debated case but the Cornish will like you for it).
*** [[http://i.imgur.com/cuq3P.png Relevant.]]
*** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10 Also relevant]].
** The term "British Isles" is also disputed by many Irish people, who object to the term "British", given its usual usage as "of or pertaining to Great Britain". The governments of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland both avoid using the term, as do most Irish people, but it is a common term in Great Britain, where it is seen as an entirely neutral, geographic term, akin to "Indian Subcontinent" or "North America".
*** Well the British Government uses it, just not in international documents. The neutral term often used is '''Islands of the North Atlantic (IONA)'''. (This does, mind, include the islands of Faeroe, which are really quite un-British, being ruled by Denmark and speaking their own North Germanic language and all...)
*** Not to be confused with the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland.
*** At least in the travel industry, the "Indian Subcontinent" is now the "South Asian Subcontinent".
** Also, it's standard practice to refer the UK as "Britain", even though Northern Ireland is part of the former but not the latter.
** Also, a person from Scotland is "a Scot"; many people from Scotland are "Scots." You may describe their nationality and their institutions as "Scottish" (so it's perfectly to say "my friend is Scottish" in the same way that one would say "my friend is English"), but ''only'' in that sense.
*** 'Scottish' is an adjective qualifying someone or something from Scotland. 'Scot' is a noun. While it's preferable to refer to people from Scotland as "the Scots" rather than "the Scottish"[[note]]though historically, the Scots -- or the Scoti -- were from Scotia, which was in fact a Roman name for ''Ireland''[[/note]], it is not wrong to refer to someone as Scottish by way of an adjective. On that note, the adjective is indeed 'Scottish'. Don't use the adjective 'Scotch' outside of Scotch whisky, Scotch eggs or Scotch pies, at least not if you don't want to be [[https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/scotch#Verb scotched]] yourself.[[note]]However, at least as recently as Agatha Christie, "Scotch" and "Scotchman" were acceptable English idioms, no matter what the Scots themselves may have had to say about it.[[/note]]
*** And while we're at it, place-name adjectives like "Parisian" or "Viennese" do ''not'' simply mean "from Paris" or "from Vienna", but rather "typical or characteristic of the place in question". Thus, you can have a ''Viennese café'' in London (i.e. it embodies characteristics commonly associated with Vienna), but "Le Monde" is a "Paris newspaper" (i.e. a newspaper based in Paris).
** These rules similarly apply to people. Hugh Laurie was born in England, Ewan [=McGregor=] in Scotland, and Catherine Zeta Jones in Wales. All three are British[[note]]though both Welsh people and Scots generally prefer the more specific demonym[[/note]], but only Laurie is English. Pierce Brosnan is neither (he's Irish).
*** And just to make things more complicated--people from most of the British Isles wince at the expression [[IAmVeryBritish 'British accent']]. Usually because they know what foreigners mean by that, and resent the implication that's how they sound. 'English accent' is marginally better (not that people from much of England will take kindly to being told 'all British accents sound posh and educated to ''me''...', as they'll still feel that their existence is being denied and aren't always as pleased as you'd think to be told they sound 'classy', but it narrows the offence a little.)
** The '''Isle of Man''' is not part of England, Scotland or even the UK; it's a separate dependency of the British Crown. The '''Bailiwick of Jersey''' and the '''Bailiwick of Guernsey''' (known collectively as the Channel Islands) are the other two Crown Dependencies. ("Bailiwick" being an archaic term meaning the area under the jurisdiction of a bailiff -- a bailiff being a sheriff's appointee, so a bailiwick would have been a part of a shire). There are also 13 British overseas territories, and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (both on Cyprus).
** On that note, now you know where the idiomatic expression '''bailiwick''' got its meaning: it means an area specific to one's jurisdiction (department, profession, area of expertise): "not my bailiwick".
* '''Russia''' is a country (specifically, a federation of a number of states and republics) running from Finland to the Pacific Ocean, from Belarus to China, from Mongolia to the Arctic Ocean and immediately north of Kazakhstan. The '''Soviet Union''', or more formally, the '''Union of Soviet Socialist Republics''' is actually what it sounds like: a country, specifically a supranational federation of different republics with a federation government sitting in the capital of Moscow (at least in a constitutional and formal sense--like many large nations who used the same model, the actual distribution of authority is highly circumstantial and dependent on the period). They are not the same thing, but often times (particularly in, though not limited to, the West) it is convenient to make them interchangeable. Russia ''was'' one of the constituent republics, specifically, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, a founding republic of this federation state.
** This even confused foreign audiences at the time of the country's founding: "Soviet Russia" was founded in 1917 and 1918, with the collapse of the Petrograd-based Russian Provision Government (that came into power after the abdication of the Tsar) and the Petrograd Soviet moving the capital to Moscow, with the adding of "Soviet" to the name "Russian Republic." The "Soviet Union" was not founded until 1922, when said republic and five of its neighbors entered into a treat to become a supranational federation. Foreign observers were typically less familiar with the other states, and continued to use the name "Soviet Russia" commonly.
** This is particularly problematic when talking about geographic locations that were in the Soviet Union, but not in the largely-unchanged borders of Russia (for example, ''Series/{{Friends}}'' speaking of "the Russian City of Minsk" in regards to the capital of Belarus).
** Another common error is referring to pre-1992 Soviet organizations where a Russian counterpart did not exist, or was clearly not the subject: the ''Russian'' atomic bomb (when, obviously, nuclear weapons are controlled by the national government), the ''Russian'' Air Force (which might refer to the Russian contingent of aircraft in the republic-level Border Forces, but obviously is intended for the ''Soviet'' Air Force), the ''Russian'' Olympic athletes (referring to Russian athletes alone, but likely intended to reference the entire ''Soviet'' Olympic team). Mother ''Russia'' is a national personification predating the creation of the Soviet Union, the term used in literature or philosophical speech for the Soviet Union (where it most commonly appears in fiction) is Mother ''Homeland'', or the nonspecific ''Motherland''. Some other republics had their own national personifications in the same period (for example, Mother Armenia, whose statue was erected in 1950). Very few post-war monuments are, accordingly, of Mother Russia.
** In an inversion, most residents of the Soviet Union spoke Russian, as there were dozens of native Soviet languages and Russian was linguistically dominant. To say someone is speaking ''Soviet'' is nonspecific and oddly-worded, especially since when not a modifying adjective (in other words, alone) "Soviet" is a noun meaning "council."
* '''Immoral''' is knowing it's wrong and doing it anyway; '''amoral''' is, generally, not having a sense of right or wrong in the first place. Gravity and a large rock are amoral; my dropping a large rock on your head to kill you is immoral (unless, perhaps, I'm mentally disturbed in such a way that I'm incapable of making moral judgments). Furthermore, '''nonmoral''' deals with things that are not a question of morality, such as the choice between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. [[note]] Although it should be noted that [[FelonyMisdemeanor choosing vanilla over chocolate is a sign of pure, unmitigated evil.]] [[/note]]
* '''Non-zero-sum''' does not mean "win-win" or "opportunity to cooperate." It refers to some valuable resources (money, time, oil, wood, etc.) being permanently lost or gained during the event. A zero-sum game merely means that everything the participants begin with is redistributed. Non-zero-sum games can easily be lose-lose instead of win-win, and, while the Prisoner's Dilemma and a few other well-known non-zero-sum games are cooperative, others, such as the dollar auction, are normally non-cooperative.
** Whether something is win-win vs. lose-lose or cooperative vs non-cooperative is usually a function of the players' choices, not of the game itself. If the players in a dollar auction agree beforehand that only one person will bid, and that the profits will be shared equally, that is a cooperative/win-win strategy. Some games can be structured to always be lose-lose, but aren't as interesting to study.
*** If by "win" one means "end with more than one started" and by "lose" one means "end with less than one started", it is also ''not'' a requirement that someone ''must'' win and someone ''must'' lose in a zero-sum game; if everyone ends with ''exactly'' as much as each one respectively had at the start, it is still a zero-sum game.
** Also, usually game theorists do not use "zero sum game" but "constant sum game". That's partly for ease of mathematics behind it, but it also can mean that all players lose or win if compared to the status quo before the game. It is just that each win of one side is countered by a loss of equal amount on the other side (and let's not start about more-than-two-player games). Also in many to most games meta gaming (e.g. side payments outside of the game itself to counter asymmetric payouts in a win-win situation) is not considered, thus not every non-zero-sum means opportunity to collaborate.
* '''Stupid''' and '''ignorant''' are not interchangeable: a stupid person lacks intelligence, an ignorant person lacks knowledge. So, if someone crosses a street on a red light because they didn't know that red means "stop", they're ignorant. If they cross a street despite seeing a car coming at 50 mph and get hit, they're stupid.
** Lampshaded in the Simpsons episode "The Way We Was":
--> '''Homer:''' Wait a minute. That word you keep calling me?\\
'''Artie:''' Ignoramus?\\
'''Homer:''' Ignoramus! It means I'm stupid, doesn't it?\\
'''Artie:''' There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity.\\
'''Homer:''' Not to me there isn't, you... ignoramus!
** If someone misuses the words on this page, they're ignorant, but not necessarily stupid.
** "Ignorant" also does not mean "belligerent" or "impolite"
** Perhaps a better example of the difference between intelligence and knowledge: knowing what the Pythagorean theorem is and what it's used for takes knowledge; being able to work out the equation mentally requires intelligence.
** Once you've read the Pythagorean theorem, understanding what it means would require intelligence.
** If someone doesn't know that a tomato is a fruit, they're ignorant. If they know it's a fruit, so they put it in fruit salad (without knowing what they're doing),[[note]]You ''can'' create a tasty fruit salad with tomato in it, but it needs a special recipe and it exists in a neither-here-nor-there universe of being sweet and savory and neither at the same time.[[/note]] then they are stupid.
** Interestingly enough, '''idiot''' can be interchangeable with '''ignorant''' given its root in a Greek word for someone who does not take part in the affairs of his city, someone who ignores those affairs.
** You could also say that since no human is omniscient (as far as we know) everybody is ignorant about something. On the other hand, not everybody is stupid.
* On that note, '''stupid''' originally meant '''numbed''' or '''stunned''', hence the phrase "He was struck stupid." The sense lives on in the verb '''to stupefy'''.
* '''Omniscient''' means all knowing. It does not necessarily mean '''Divine''' or '''decides right from wrong.''' A lot of tropers seem to be misusing OmniscientMoralityLicense under the latter assumption.
* '''Née''' means "born". It does ''not'' mean "formerly known as" or "otherwise known as" or even "maiden name" except in the context that a woman's maiden name is generally her birth name. If a woman is born as Mary Smith, marries and changes her name to Mary Robinson, then divorces, remarries, and changes her name to Mary Jones, it would be correct to say "Mary Jones, née Smith"; it would ''not'' be correct to say "Mary Jones, née Robinson."
** Secondly, "née" is feminine. If a man changes his name, it's '''né''' (e.g. "Malcolm X, né Little").
** For transsexuals, as a general rule of thumb, you use the gender-specific words of the gender they identify as, rather than their genotype, if you are trying to be polite to them. So for example if you know a [=FtM=], it is "He" "Him" "né" etc.
* Similarly, French-derived adjectives should retain their French masculine-feminine endings. A woman with flaxen hair is '''blonde''', but a man is '''blond'''. More obscurely, and only in English, a man with dark hair is not a '''brunette''' but a '''brunet'''. It would all be pronounced the same in English, though, where articles don't have gender.
** In French, "brunette" carries the literal meaning of "little brown-/black-haired girl." A woman who is dark-haired is "brune", and a dark-haired man is "brun". The nouns, "une brune" and "un brun" can also be used, especially with adjectives ("une jolie[[note]]pretty[[/note]] brune"/"un beau[[note]]handsome[[/note]] brun"). "Blondinette" (blond-haired girl) is an endearment. There is no male equivalent for "brunette".
** Also, when one is engaged to be married, the proper word depends on the person's gender: a man is a '''fiancé''', whereas a woman is a '''fiancée'''. As with other French-derived terms, they may be pronounced exactly the same, but their gender matters.
** Another place where people often drop the gender declension in English is for words like aviator. Saying "female aviator" is incorrect, the term is "aviatrix."[[note]]Though it's perhaps better, if the pilot's genitalia aren't relevant, to stick with "pilot".[[/note]] Same with "male dominatrix." It's just "dominator."
* People keep using '''pragmatic''' to describe someone who appears to be thinking quite ideally, or something along the lines of that. This is used frequently to describe politicians during political campaigns. The word means "of or pertaining to a practical point of view or practical considerations." In a related sense, '''pragmatism''' is a "character or conduct that emphasizes practicality." So depending on the case, one may be correct or not.
* If you're '''waiting on''' someone, then you're performing the job of a waiter or servant. If you're looking at your watch wondering where the hell they are, you're waiting ''for'' them.
** [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage Dialect difference]]. Like how people from parts of the eastern US--especially New York City--say "on line for tickets" instead of "in line for tickets". Slight differences between preposition use are a common dialect variation, especially in Germanic languages (anyone who took high-school German probably read that word "preposition" and began to weep softly, like a ShellShockedVeteran).
*** Trust me, we Germans aren't happy with English prepositions either.
* A '''narcotic''' is any sedative defined as drug with morphine-like effects (to quote Wiki/TheOtherWiki). Most people use it as an umbrella term to include all illicit drugs.
** The term was corrupted as soon as the ''stimulant'' cocaine was classified as a narcotic in US federal law (the original Harrison Narcotics Act was written to deal with opium trafficking), so for legal purposes it is - despite being a stimulant.
* '''Argumentum ad hominem''' is (to quote Wiki/TheOtherWiki) [[LogicalFallacies "an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise."]] It's not just a fancy word for a personal attack. "You suck, therefore your argument is false" is ''ad hominem''. "You suck" on its own isn't, neither is "your argument is false, therefore you suck,"[[note]]which, thanks to how implication works, means that the person could still suck even if their argument is true[[/note]] nor is "Your argument is false and you suck." It's certainly rude, but not fallacious.
** In many cases, the "therefore your argument is false" part is left implied. The intent is still to discredit the advocate rather than (probably more difficult) rebuttal of the premise; that the link is not explicitly stated doesn't necessarily mean it isn't ad hominem - if the attack is trying to bring down the premise, it is. If the person being attacked is not advocating anything, though (or if anything they might be advocating has nothing to do with the attack), it isn't ad hominem - just a personal attack.
* '''Semitic''' doesn't necessarily mean Jewish. It means of Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, and/or Phoenician ancestry.[[note]]By the process of history, most Phoenicians, Akkadians, and Aramaeans have been mixed so much with Arabs -- to the point that nearly all of them have Arabic as a first language and many if not most of them consider themselves ethnically Arab -- that they're hardly worth mentioning today.[[/note]] On the other hand, the terms '''anti-Semitic''', '''anti-Semitism''', and '''anti-Semite''' typically only refer to hatred of Jews; these words were coined in 19th century Europe, during the era of "scientific racism" which claimed that all apparent religious and cultural conflicts of Jews and (Christian) Europeans were actually born of conflict between Semitic and "Aryan" races,[[note]]See also Woodrow Wilson's brilliant idea that Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks should have one country because they're all the same race and thus won't have any conflict. In fairness to him, many Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks actually had the same idea at the time; they figured their commonality of language (their languages are completely mutually intelligible and were at the time argued to be dialects of one language) was more important than their religious differences.[[/note]] and the terminology has stuck ever since.
** Contrast with the lesser-known word '''anti-Judaism''', which refers specifically to opposition to the Jewish religion, and not to Jews as a nation, race, tribe, or ethnicity. Then there is '''anti-Zionism''', which specifically refers to opposition to the ''political'' nation-state of Israel and[=/=]or Jewish Nationalism in general (some of the most vocal anti-Zionists are Haredi ''Jews'', [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikrikim some of whom]] have committed violence in the name of their position).
*** Both anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism can, of course, be covers for anti-Semitism. Even without deliberate dishonesty, the three tend to shade into each other, especially given how tightly interwoven Jewish religion and nationalism are to the rest of Jewish identity (it's similarly difficult to distinguish opposition to Hinduism from opposition to Indian nationalism or hatred of Indians).
* '''Populist''' has done a complete turnaround of meaning since the 1890s. Political scientist David Nolan once used it as roughly a synonym for ''socialist''. Actually, while the Populist (or People's) Party of the 1890s that thrived in much of the western and southern United States was more anti-"big business" than anti-business generally, it did call for some reforms that are usually thought of as socialistic (such as the nationalization of particularly lucrative industries). Nowadays, the word has been shorn of almost all economic connotations. To be a ''populist'' is to bear resentment against society's elites, who need not necessarily be "the rich." Class is still a factor to some extent, but differing educational levels and the contentious nature of American popular culture also enter into the equation.
** The broadest definition of populism is opposition to the elite, whatever "elite" may mean at the moment. As such, it's perfectly correct to use it for the political movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, marked for their socialist tendancies and dismantling of corporate giants, as it is to use it for the current anti-intellectualist bent in the American social and political landscape.
*** Populist is not about opposition to the elite but about favouring and aiming efforts at the greater populace. To be a populist is to promote oneself to be liked by the majority, the non-elite, if they happen to like the elite it would be populist not to go against the elite...
*** To complicate matters further, ''populist'' may also refer to politicians who aim their efforts on any majority, thus changing sides and agendas to maximize their support, not to represent any group in particulat. It is more or less political equivalent to 'opportunist'.
* '''Objective''' (as in the opposite of '''Subjective'''), especially when used with the word '''review''' (as in a ''critical review''). There is no such thing as an '''objective review'''. A review, by definition, is subjective. A ''consensus'' may be derived from many reviews, but there will never be a definitive, objective review. An actually objective review would look something like this [[http://www.destructoid.com/100-objective-review-final-fantasy-xiii-179178.phtml review of Final Fantasy XIII]] by [[WebVideo/{{Jimquisition}} Jim Sterling]].
** The word one should use when speaking about review that is as unbiased as possible and takes into account multiple point of views is 'intersubjective'.
* The use of a somewhat archaic word has clouded its meaning, but nibbling on hors d'oeuvres serves to '''whet''' one's appetite, not ''wet'' it. ''Whet'' means "to sharpen," as seen in the term ''whetstone'', a stone used for sharpening knives--if something is sharpening your appetite, it's leaving you hungry for more, not dampening (or ''wetting'') your enthusiasm. So, "whetting your appetite for destruction" would mean starting small as a prelude to becoming more destructive, not sating the urge altogether.
* There are so many examples of psychological and psychiatric terms that are misused that it almost warrants its own page. To start with:
* '''Psychotic''': It does not mean [[InsaneEqualsViolent "going around and killing people for no reason"]]; someone who does that is just homicidal. Psychosis is a loss of touch with reality, characterized by disorganised thinking, delusions, and sometimes (but not always) auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations. While people with psychosis can be homicidal, it is extremely rare (violence by psychotics is more usually related to paranoid or other delusions).
* '''[[TheSociopath Psychopath / Sociopath]]''': They are usually not murderers; in fact, many successful [[CorruptCorporateExecutive CEOs]], [[AmoralAttorney lawyers]], and [[SleazyPolitician politicians]] are psychopaths or sociopaths. Psychopathy and sociopathy both mean lack of a conscience, a limited emotional range, and difficulty in forming significant relationships. They also often lack impulse control. Both psychopaths and sociopaths can be classed as having antisocial personality disorder, though not all people with the disorder are psychopaths or sociopaths. Psychopathy and sociopathy are typically held to be synonyms under the umbrella of antisocial personality disorder (which is the term the DSM-IV uses that includes psychopaths and sociopaths), and when a distinction is made it has nothing to do with the origins of the disorder, since the origins are not definitely known. The typical distinction is that sociopaths have a more normal temperament and are better able to adapt to societal norms. While statistically speaking murderers are likely to be psychopaths or sociopaths, psychopaths and sociopaths are not very likely to be murderers.
** In the pilot of ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'', Holmes objects to being called a psychopath, preferring to be recognized as a "highly functional sociopath."
*** "High-functioning sociopath." "Highly functional" is a very common misquote; the actual line follows the same pattern as high-functioning autism or high-functioning alcoholism, etc., denoting a person who might have some disorder but is more capable than is common among those who have that disorder. It is not clear what Sherlock actually meant by that statement, since sociopaths follow a "normal" (as in, not distinct from the wider population) distribution curve. All subsequent evidence points to Sherlock just being a (high-functioning) autistic person in denial.
* '''Antisocial''': Sometimes used to mean someone who dislikes or fears socializing. In the psychological sense, it doesn't mean that at all. Antisocial attitudes or behaviors are against society, from extreme acts like murder to more minor transgressions like simply being a manipulative, self-centered {{Jerkass}}. Someone who fears interacting with other people should be said to be '''asocial''' or suffering from social phobia, not "antisocial" tendencies. As a matter of fact, ''social phobia'' is an outdated term, and is usually now called "social anxiety disorder." In other words, people who are antisocial are ''hostile'' -- not merely indifferent -- towards society.
** "Antisocial" is also used to denote "rebellious" individuals actively fighting (not necessarily by violence, also by dissent or passive-aggressive behavior) any authority and are incapable of operating under external influence.
** An increasingly more popular and accurate term for the above disorder is ''agoraphobia'', from the ancient Greek term for "fear of the marketplace." But to be honest, I've always understood that ''agoraphobia'' is fear of the ''entire'' outside world, not just the "social" parts of it. Thus, an agoraphobe would be just as afraid of being lost in a forest or a desert as they were of crowds.
*** It makes more sense once you know that 'agora' in this case is what the Romans called the 'forum', rather than your run-of-the-mill farmers' market.
** ''Agoraphobia'' is more specifically a fear of being unable to ''escape'' from whatever situation you're in (sometimes amended to include 'without severe embarrassment'), rather than the situation itself. In the above examples, the phobic response would be due to the fear of never escaping the forest, or being lost in the desert forever. Being in a busy place (e.g. a football crowd) could count if you couldn't leave your set without making a huge scene.
** What "agoraphobia" misses is the ''social'' part of "social anxiety disorder". Sartre's "Hell is other people" hits a nerve - and as unjustified as that hit may be, it's still felt.
** Perhaps more appropriate word would be "asocial", and it is sometimes used, though it implies lack of interest in social interaction while not fear of it.
*** This is exactly the term used in psychological parlance to describe people avoiding social situations due to social phobias, egomania, extreme introversion or any other factor.
** Agoraphobia is a disorder more focused on the area and getting to safety (without embarrassing yourself) if needed and usually has to do with panic attacks or some of the symptoms of them. A fear focused on actual people or socializing is called social phobia or social anxiety disorder (and is much more severe than shyness so should not be used lightly despite its commonness -- the most common mental disorder in adults other than substance abuse or depression, which is saying something). The best replacement for "antisocial" is "avoidant" -- avoidant personality disorder is associated with extreme social phobia. "Asocial", as pointed out above, is different. Most shy/socially anxious/avoidant people would love to be social if they weren't anxious about it. There are people who simply do not like to be around other people without being either avoidant or antisocial; these are asocial. "Asocial", however, may look like a typo in writing "antisocial" to a reader.
** On a related note, '''introversion''' is not being antisocial; being introverted is simply ''preferring'' solitary activities to social activities.
* '''Manic-depression''' is more properly known as '''bipolar disorder''', and ''does not'' mean "severe depression" or "wild mood swings;" the highs and lows last for days or weeks at a time. Neither one is a catch-all for "crazy ex." (See '''borderline''', '''histrionic''', and '''narcissistic''' disorders for what most people think of as "crazy ex syndrome.")
** [[Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy Marvin the Paranoid Android]] is a ''manically'' depressed robot, ''not'' a manic-depressive robot, which is true - he's enthusiastically depressed.
** Also, bipolar is an ''adjective'', not a noun. It's either "my friend is bipolar" or "my friend has bipolar disorder," ''not'' "my friend has bipolar."
** And it doesn't have anything to do with {{tsundere}}s, no matter what certain fansubs say.
* On the subject of '''borderline''', saying someone is borderline does not mean they're on the cusp of having a personality disorder; it means they ''do'' have one. ''Borderline'' is a name for a very specific pattern of behaviour involving emotional instability, poor self-image, impulsiveness, and [[BlackAndWhiteInsanity black-and-white thinking]] (what psychologists call "splitting"), as well as a fear of abandonment. The name is only used because of historical reasons which are too complex to get into here, and the existence of the disorder has been questioned, with some seeing it as a variant of post-traumatic stress disorder (specifically, one that the profession slaps on female PTSD sufferers, as the overwhelming majority of borderline personality disorder diagnoses are of women).
* '''Depression''' is yet another psychological term (seeing a trend here?) that's casually thrown around but has a different meaning in a medical or therapeutic context. Depression is not just sadness, but much more persistent and disabling, and includes many other mood changes and physical symptoms like: anhedonia (loss of the ability to feel pleasure), changes in sleep and eating habits (either much less or much more than usual), and a lack of energy and motivation.
* '''OCD''' is [[SuperOCD often thought of]] as the concept of a NeatFreak taken to the extreme. That's because the most visible sign of it is the rituals that people who have OCD do (counting, checking, hand-washing, climbing stairs and so on). The reason it's called ''obsessive''-compulsive disorder is because people with it have certain obsessive thoughts that are highly distressing and which they cannot get rid of (things like fears of their entire family dying, or their house burning down, or accidentally harming a baby). The compulsions they have are a coping mechanism of sorts - performing these rituals helps the obsessions go away, but only temporarily. To describe someone as "kind of OCD (adj.)" because they like order and cleanliness is not even close to reality.
* '''Chronic''' does not mean "severe". It means "recurring/habitual" and/or "happening for a long time;" it comes from a Greek root meaning "time" (same as "chronological" or "chronicle"), so you should think "over time." Contrast '''acute''', which means "rapid onset". Too many people associate "acute" with "small" due to its meaning in geometry (they should be associating it with "sharp" for the same reason).
** Also an illness being acute does not necessarily mean that it is serious, it only means that full set of symptoms display themselves quickly (a papercut is acute). So calling a disease Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is not tautological.
* '''Paranoia''' and '''paranoid''' are a particularly egregious case. '''Paranoia''' is a full-blown psychosis, not just thinking people are out to get you. However, someone who really was diagnosed with paranoia would be '''paranoiac''' (literally '''out of his mind'''), not '''paranoid''', which denotes a neurotic '''paranoid state'''.
** This is lampshaded in the movie version of ''Film/TheCaineMutiny'', where Maryk admits that until Keefer talked to him, "I didn't even know the difference between paranoid and paranoia."
* '''Schizophrenia''' does not involve multiple personalities. Multiple personalities are a form of dissociation known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). It is an extremely rare diagnosis, so rare that its existence is very hotly debated. In addition, one of the major prerequisites is that the separate personalities are [[http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Dissociative_Identity_Disorder_(formerly_Multiple_Personality_Disorder).htm usually]] not aware of each other--something that is often overlooked in both real life and the media, as the protagonist in ''Series/UnitedStatesOfTara'' was quick to point out.
** Especially confusing for those who like their Greek roots, because 'Schizophrenia' literally means "split mind".
*** The full etymology for schizophrenia is ''skhizein'' (σχίζειν, "to split") and ''phrēn'', phren- (φρήν, φρεν-; "mind, intelligence") not the same thing as personality.
** If we wanted to do right by the etymologists we should switch from Schneider's 'schizophrenia' name for schizophrenia back to Emil Kraepelin's 'dementia praecox'.
*** ''Dementia praecox'' wouldn't work though because it means "precocious madness", so a degenerative disease of young people. However, schizophrenia isn't degenerative like dementia is, and it's treatable, whereas Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia aren't really and treatments for them are mostly palliative. Also, schizophrenia does most often manifest for the first time in young adulthood (late teens to early twenties) but it can develop at any age, including in the elderly.
** The confusion is likely from some schizophrenics having auditory/visual hallucinations and sometimes speaking back to them, giving the [[IncrediblyLamePun illusion]] to some people that another "personality" is speaking to the schizophrenic.
*** If psychology texts are reliable, the confusion is the above misinterpretation of "intelligence" as "personality", plus failure to understand that "divided" in this instance means something closer to "shattered" than it does to "split".
** The "split" portion of the word actually refers to a divergence of the mind from reality, not that it's split internally.
** The word '''schizoid''', which is a personality disorder, does use this root to mean "cut off (from other people)". But this is a very different thing than schizophrenia.
** If a person has '''anorexia''', then she is '''an anorectic''' or she is '''anorexic'''. She is not an anorexic, nor is she anorectic. "Anorectic" is a noun; "anorexic" is an adjective.
*** In strict medical terms, '''anorexia''' refers generally to loss of appetite as a symptom, the psychiatric disorder involving distorted body image and fear of weight gain is '''anorexia nervosa'''.
* The words '''psychologist''' and '''psychiatrist''' are often confused. A psychologist is someone who has an advanced degree in psychology (normally a doctorate or at least a master's) and does psychotherapy and psychological testing. They can diagnose people, but can't prescribe medication (except in a few jurisdictions) or order medical imaging. A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor who specializes in psychological disorders and they can do these things because of their broader scope of practice. Psychologists study nothing but psychology in their training; psychiatrists have to learn about other branches of medicine first before specializing in it.
* '''Quean''' does not mean, as [[{{Literature/Redwall}} Brian Jacques]] claimed in interviews about ''The Sable Quean'', "wicked woman". Nor, as some readers might assume, does it mean "queen". It means "prostitute" or "promiscuous woman". Then again, this is probably actually a case of GettingCrapPastTheRadar.
* To be '''bereft''' of something does not just mean to be without something. It means to be without something ''that you previously had''.
* '''Peasant''' is not a general term for a poor person. A peasant is a tenant farmer, a free laborer who rents a farm and works it himself. The hierarchy is: slave (who is owned property that can be bought and sold), serf (has some rights, but is required to work his lord's land and give the lord a portion of the harvest), sharecropper (a free man who works on someone else's land and pays the landowner a portion of the crop) peasant, crofter (a farmer who owns his own house, but still rents land to farm), yeoman (owns enough land to support a family), gentleman (owns enough farmland to support himself by renting it out). Admittedly, a lot of this depends on time period and the distinctions can be blurred; for instance, consider someone who rents a piece of land and works it himself but has agreed to pay the rent by sending the landlord crops equivalent in market value to the rent (e.g. "the rent is $600/year; in lieu of cash, tenant may send crops with market value of $600"); is this person a sharecropper or a peasant?[[note]]If he agreed to send a fixed portion or amount of the crops (e.g. 1/3 of all corn harvested, or 100 bushels of wheat"), he would be a sharecropper. If he sold the crops and paid the rent in cash with the proceeds, he would doubtless be a peasant. Since the market value of crops changes, and there may be practical considerations keeping the tenant from using cash (for instance: there aren't many coins in the area to go around, so the economy mostly runs on barter), the distinction is hard to make.[[/note]] To no small degree this depends on whether he's in medieval England (where he would probably be called a peasant) or the post-Civil War American South (where he would probably be called a sharecropper). Poor farmers can loosely be called "the peasantry," but that's about it.
** Note that TranslationConvention can introduce confusion in dealing with non-English-speaking societies. Everything after "peasant" is often called the same thing in many other languages (because "doesn't work for someone else" is a decisive characteristic). Many other European languages also often use their cognates for "peasant" in senses closer to English's "crofter" and "yeoman" (a French peasant could be a full-blown landowner, for example, or a "métayer", a sharecropper).
* A '''Chaingun''' is a single-barrel weapon with an electrically driven bolt operated with a chain. It is not a '''rotary gun'''. This comes from ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' misusing the term; usually, the reasoning for the mistake is that the latter is fed with a "chain" (ie a ''belt'') of ammunition, or that the barrel group is driven by a chain.
** More accurately still, a "Chain Gun" is the specific model of weapon used on many US and NATO aircraft. Any autoloading (generally fully automatic) weapon larger than a machinegun is called an "autocannon" regardless of mechanism. A multi-barrelled weapon in this class that rotates is called a "Rotary Autocannon." A single-barreled weapon that uses a rotating loading mechanism is a "Revolver Autocannon". The most accurate name for ''Doom'''s "chaingun" would be "Rotary Submachine Gun", as it uses pistol ammunition.
* "'''Decapitated''' head" is paradoxical: to decapitate someone is to behead him. Cutting a head off of itself is...well...[[YouKeepUsingThatWord inconceivable]]. A ''body'' can be decapitated; a better adjective for a head on its own is '''severed'''. (''Disembodied'' usually means 'intangible'.)
--> "Newsanchor overheard in ''Film/{{Highlander}}'': "It also left a man's decapitated body, lying on the floor next to his own severed head."
* Related: "decapacitate" is a rarely-used word that means to reduce someone or something's capacity for action, essentially a milder version of "incapacitate." It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the head; in fact, decapitating someone is far more likely to incapacitate them (by killing them) than decapacitate them.
* '''Differential''' is both a noun and an adjective, but in the noun form, it is a mechanical device used for combining torque from different inputs, ''not'' a synonym for '''difference'''. This is a favorite of television sports announcers ("There's a three-point differential in the game!").
** A differential is also used in mathematics to refer to infinitesimals in calculus and differential geometry i.e. dx, dy etc or to the Jacobian matrix of partial derivatives.
* A '''demigod''' is not a lesser "category" of deity. "Demi" means "half", i.e. "half god". A demigod has both mortal and divine parentage. For example, Hercules (son of Zeus, a god, and Alcmene, a human) ''is'' a demigod, whereas a dryad (a forest spirit) is ''not''.
** Note, however, that the term was invented by 19th century classicists; the Greek word for "of mixed divine and mortal parentage" was "hero" (which originally ''never'' applied to pureblood mortals—and also had intrinsically cultic connotations, since all the mythic heroes were considered appropriate for worship, especially Heracles).
* Something being '''random''' means that it has no clear predictability or arrangement. It doesn't mean "kooky" or "off the wall", and neither sporks nor waffles nor [[DoomyDoomsOfDoom doom]] are "random" (see also: the 4chan meme "Katy").
* '''{{Prequel}}''' doesn't mean "a previous installment in a series". It means "a sequel to an existing work that takes place earlier in the timeline of its [[TheVerse 'Verse]]".
* The suffix '''mancer''' does not mean "magician". A [something]mancer is a very specific type of magician who uses [something] to predict the future. (A "necromancer" used bones and entrails to divine.) A better suffix, -urge, means "worker", as in "one who creates or works with". A thaumaturge (worker of wonders) is a magician, but a dramaturge (playwright) isn't, and neither is a metallurgist nor a demiurge.
* The Internet usage of '''{{Troll}}''' does not mean "someone who has a different opinion from mine", "someone who has an unpopular opinion", or "someone who does something for attention". A troll is someone who does/says things for the sole purpose of trying to piss people off. Someone can legitimately have an unpopular opinion, but he's not a troll unless he states it just to be annoying.
** A well known real-life troll is Fred Phelps, who travels around the country saying the most upsetting things he can to emotional audiences (mainly at funerals), in the hopes that someone will cross the legal line so he and his family (all lawyers) can sue them.
** The term comes not from the mythical creature, but from a ''trawling'', the method of fishing involving moving through the water while waving the bait behind you. An internet troll is fishing for reactions, waving their 'opinion' as bait.
*** Its earliest use, in the early 90's, usually referred to 'fishing out' new users and lurkers (often in a good-natured attempt to encourage them to write) by presenting an argument that had been already thoroughly discussed by regulars.
** In even narrower sense, trolls do not even have to have an unpopular opinions. They cause also can cause stir by simply initiating a [[FlameWar discussion that is bound to cause an argument]] but they may do so without taking sides themselves. (However, [[HanlonsRazor be careful with accusations in this case; they may simply have]] triggered an event by accident.)
*** Not to mention the ChewbaccaDefense.
** Lately the term has been used as a synonym for "bully" or "harasser" in that it constitutes behavior used to belittle or demean a target. It's also often confused with the term "flaming" which is any sort of negativity towards a specific user. While the initial trolling might involve any of those, the end goal of the troll is to ''incite'' flames rather than just insult somebody.
* A '''[[UsefulNotes/FurryFandom furry]]''' is not the same thing as a zoophile. A zoophile gets off on real animals, while furries like fictional anthropomorphic characters, most of whom would be intelligent enough to consent if they were real.
** Also, many if not most furries are not interested in the sexual aspect of the fandom at all, they simply like drawing/dressing up as/writing about anthropomorphic animals.
** The confusion about the definition of the term is not helped by the fact that it is often used interchangeably to refer to both fans of anthropomorphic animal characters and the characters themselves. The especially pedantic may insist on referring to the former as "furry fans" and reserving the term "furry" for the latter, but even that may be confused by the practice of taking on a "fursona," at which point a person is both a furry fan and a self-identified (though not literal) furry (i.e. anthropomorphic animal).
* '''I.e.''' ("id est," "that is") and '''e.g.''' ("exempli gratia," "for example") are not interchangeable. I.e may be used to expand upon a point or to exhaustively list every possibility, while e.g. merely gives possible answers but leaves the list open.
-->"There are many varieties of pasta, e.g., spaghetti, macaroni, and gnocchi."
-->"Pasta should be made ''al dente,'' i.e., firm and chewy, not overcooked."
** A useful mnemonic is to remember i.e. as "in essence" and e.g. as "example given."
** On a similar note, '''etc.''' ("et cetera," "and other things"), should never end a list introduced with "e.g." or "i.e." (or the plain English "for example" and "such as"). Etc. and e.g. are redundant, and it makes no sense to abbreviate i.e.
* A '''[[ImAHumanitarian cannibal]]''' eats members of its own species. Something that is non-human, but eats humans, is an '''anthropophage'''. "Anthropophage" is a pretty pedantic word, but come on; use "man-eater" or something. Technically a human [[ImAHumanitarian who eats other humans]] would be a cannibal ''and'' an anthropophage, but "cannibal" seems superordinate in this case. The word "cannibal" derives from the Carib people (after whom the Caribbean Sea is named) who were once believed to chew and spit out the flesh of a defeated enemy.
** This was actually mentioned in ''Film/DawnOfTheDead1978'', where it was said that the undead were not cannibals, because they were no longer human.
** This is also pointed out in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' by Alistair when he remarks that it's not cannibalism if ''Dog'' is eating fallen foes.
** However, in fantasy/sci-fi settings, the definition is sometimes extended to any [[YouKeepUsingThatWord/VeryPedantic sapient]] creature [[SapientEatSapient eating another]] (Elves eating humans, or even lizardfolk, would be considered cannibals in such a setting).
* The phrase "'''more highly evolved'''" means nothing: [[GoalOrientedEvolution evolution doesn't work like a ladder that animals climb to the top]]. No biologist has thought of it that way since Darwin. You could say that a species that hasn't changed for a few million years is "unevolved" but that would be a rather simplistic way of looking at it. After all evolution is still working on the species, because they aren't changing, evolution is "selecting" for no change. Evolution is always working on a species, unless they reach a very specific and almost impossible set of conditions.
** The word ''evolution'' can mean a lot of different things, from the scientific "natural selection", and "development of life from single-celled organisms to current situation", the same but including emergence of life from non-life, and the less scientific "change over time", "change for the better" or simply "huge change", as used in advertising.
*** Evolution may also refer to specific terms of conditions. If we speak about, say, the operating systems that are meant to be user-friendly and efficient then we can say that better-developed systems are 'more evolved'. In the case of natural selection such judgment makes little sense because that would have required an objective knowledge of the meaning of life which is, as all things objective, beyond the grasp of human mind.
*** And if we were to put this in the "very-Pedantic" entry, "evolution" originally meant to ''unroll something''. The word has been documented since the 17th century and might be even older. The word "evolution" is a prime example of a dead metaphor, where a metaphor becomes an actual term no longer considered metaphorical (e.g. electric current). The word was used a metaphor for the unrolling of time/fate and over the ages, its, well, evolved so that not only has the metaphorical meaning lost its metaphorical use, the original meaning has been completely forgotten.
** Similarly, terms such as ''devolution'', ''de-evolution'', ''reverse evolution'', etc. carry no meaning in biology (although "devolution" carries a separate meaning in politics), since complex forms of life can become less complex and physical traits that were once advantageous can disappear (or remain as vestigial traits) over generations when confronted by a new environment. That doesn't stop the writers of science fiction from occasionally using this term when a member of one species "returns" to an ancestral form, nor does it stop [[{{Music/Devo}} some people]] from adopting the term to mean "reverse progress."
** Also: By the millions of years their species have been around with few significant changes, two of the least highly evolved creatures are alligators and sharks. Evolution doesn't have any direction, but once it stumbles on a winning combination, it is ''really good at sticking with it''. Some prominent biologists have used sharks as examples that sapience and intelligence are not evolutionary imperatives, and that they are in fact entirely up to chance.
* '''Castration''' is specifically the removal of ''testicles''. The correct term for the removal of the penis (or the male genitalia as a whole) is '''emasculation'''. Though it might be argued that the correct term for either one is [[ShareTheMalePain ouch]].
** The surgical removal of the penis is called a ''penectomy'', while ''orchidectomy'' is the term for the surgical removal of the testicles. (And now you get the joke in ''Series/MadMen'' about Bert Cooper's "unnecessary orchidectomy.")
** One can be castrated without the testicles being removed (still less the whole scrotum- very dangerous without modern techniques, it has a heavy blood supply)- the only significant part is the ''testes'', the glands within them. These can be permanently decommissioned by drugs or, in the case of the Italian castrati singers of the 14th to 19th centuries, by being deliberately ruptured by being squeezed by one who knows where to apply pressure. (They can also be ruptured by accident, though you'd have to be very unlucky to lose both this way.)
* A '''totem''' is not a personal spirit guide, even if it ''is'' an animal. A totem animal protects an entire ''group'' of people, such as a family, clan, or tribe.
* '''Asexual''' is applied in general to [[{{Asexuality}} anyone who doesn't have sex for any reason]], but, as a proper sexual orientation, there are several more nuanced shades of meaning. ''Asexual'' in the strict sense means that a person does not feel physical attraction to others. A person who wants to have sex but has physiological or psychological reasons preventing them from having sex is not asexual. Similarly, someone who identifies as asexual does not see themselves as suffering from a medical disorder like lack of sex drive.
** An asexual can and often does experience attraction but it's more of the platonic/aesthetic type. There are as many different types of asexuals as sexuals, but it should really be pointed out that it has nothing to do with desiring relationships. There are many sexuals who do not desire relationships, for example, Creator/CharlieSheen's character on ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen''.
** Being asexual does not necessarily mean that the person doesn't want relationships-- an ''aromantic'' person is uninterested in relationships. One can be asexual but romantic (enjoys friendship, love, kissing or hugging, but is uninterested in sexual activity) or sexual but aromantic (interested in sex but not in relationships).
** ''Autosexual'' can refer to a person who enjoys masturbation, but not sex (with another person). Autosexuals are not considered asexual.
*** Technically, as an orientation, an autosexual is someone who is in love with themself. Otherwise, autosexuality or autoerotica is a behavior, not a sexual orientation. Otherwise, sexuals who masturbate would also be called autosexuals.
** Finally, asexual can also refer to "not having a sex" (as opposed to a sex ''drive''), most commonly in the term "asexual reproduction". However, context is usually sufficient to distinguish the terms - it depends on whether you're discussing humans, or non-human species.
* Relatedly, '''abstinence''' is a willing choice not to engage in some activity--such as, for example, ''sexual abstinence'' (which might range from "doing everything but intercourse" to much stricter levels of abstinence, like refraining from masturbation and from sexual contact with others). '''Celibacy''' originally meant simply "being unmarried", but now generally means being unmarried ''and'' sexually abstinent. '''Chastity''' means obeying the appropriate moral rules for sexual behavior, which does ''not'' necessarily imply sexual abstinence: in traditional Christian teaching, for example, a chaste husband and wife would be sexually active with each other (but with nobody else), but a chaste, unmarried person would be sexually abstinent.
* '''Comprise''' and '''compose''' are (roughly) reciprocal, not synonyms. An archipelago ''is composed of'' many islands, and ''comprises'' those islands; it is not ''comprised of'' the islands -- if anything, the islands are comprised of the archipelago (though this use of ''of'' is very archaic; ''comprised by'' might be better--although not by much, since ''comprised by'' is hardly a common expression either).
* '''Erstwhile''' is not laudatory; it means 'former'.
* In chemistry, '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatility_%28chemistry%29 Volatile]]''' does ''not'' mean "explosive" or "flammable"[[note]]and certainly not that it [[FanFic/QuarterLifeHalfwayToDestruction does not have a half-life but quarter life so you must observe with haste]][[/note]], it means how likely the substance is to vaporise. Vapours of a given flammable substance likely ''will'' be even more flammable than say the liquid form, but that's just coincidental. The correct words to describe something which is likely to go boom or ''otherwise react spontaneously'' is either ''unstable'' (for when it is energetically likely) or ''labile'' (when it is kinetically likely); in particular, gasoline and oils are volatile but not particularly unstable, compared to compounds like acetylene.
** In regular English, the other meaning ("quick to anger" or "prone to violence") is perfectly correct, however.
* '''Holland''' is a region in '''The Netherlands'''. It comprises most of the coastal region and the best-known cities from The Netherlands lie in Holland, namely [[FreestateAmsterdam Amsterdam]], Rotterdam and The Hague. Holland is not a valid name for the country, nor is it the name of a province anymore. The region that was once Holland now has the imaginative names North Holland and South Holland. This is akin to referring to the UK as "England".
** It should be noted that in several languages the official name of Netherlands is derived from the name of the Holland province (e.g. 'Holandia' in Polish or 'Holland' in Danish and Estonian). It is used however to denote only the European part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands that incorporates also Aruba and former Dutch Antilles).
** Of course, it doesn't help avoid confusion when the ''pars pro toto'' shorthand "Holland" is used in the name of the national football team and by local fans who shout "Holland!" and "Hup Holland Hup!" at matches (so the word "Holland" is prominently implied to denote the whole country to the rest of the world's spectators), and "Holland" is currently used by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions to refer to the entire country in literature for prospective visitors. The main tourist website is Holland.com which contains a brief description of why Netherlands is technically correct but why it's nonetheless preferred to use Holland to attract visitors. The Dutch may actually be less pedantic on this point than many English speakers.
* A '''rabbi''' is a person sufficiently versed in Jewish law to have obtained this designation from a religious authority, not unlike an academic degree (you are still entitled to be addressed as Doctor even if you "don't do anything" with your Ph. D.). A rabbi:
** is ''not'' the Jewish equivalent of a priest (there still exists a hereditary priestly class within the Tribe of Levi, called Kohanim, although their duties have been significantly reduced since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE);
** is ''not'' a person who certifies kosher food (this is a ''mashgiaḥ'', which literally means "inspector", and it is certainly not done through "blessing" food as [[ArtisticLicenseReligion Hollywood seems to think]]);
** is ''not'' a person who does circumcisions (this is a ''mohel'', who is generally a licensed physician these days),
** is ''not'' a person who leads prayers in the synagogue (this is a ''ḥazan'' or cantor, or often just a lay member of the congregation); and
** is not exclusively the spiritual leader of a synagogue (rabbis who do this are usually called "pulpit rabbis", but there are thousands of individuals with rabbinic ordination who do not work for synagogue congregations, including those who simply study full-time).
** Now to be fair, there is overlap among these categories -- some kohanim become rabbis, some rabbis work as mashgiḥim, etc., but the fact of being a rabbi does not mean that one is/does any of them. Also, any bearded man wearing black is not a rabbi -- this is standard appearance for all ultra-Orthodox Jews whether or not they have rabbinic ordination.
* The generic [[HypocriticalHumor verbing]] of nouns, '''medaling''' to describe ''winning'' a medal, '''actioning''' for ''doing'' something, '''friending''' for ''becoming'' friends. This is an interesting case, as it is becoming increasingly acceptable to "verb" nouns in colloquial speech, and it isn't like these words have any other established uses that would make a distinction worthwhile to defend (being neologisms for the most part).[[note]]Particularly insane denizens of this very wiki would attribute this to the influence of Creator/JossWhedon; they may very well be right, but that's beside the point.[[/note]] As a result, it's difficult to solidly classify any of these verb-to-noun constructions as solecisms (except perhaps ''actioning'', which provides only a clumsy synonym for ''doing'' much as ''utilizing'' is most frequently used as a clumsy synonym for ''using''), but one would be very well-advised to avoid them in more formal writing.
* '''Jealousy''' typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. One can be a jealous boyfriend, but one cannot be jealous of ''someone else's'' boyfriend, unless [[HoYay there's already something between the two of you]]. This is often confused with '''Envy''', which is "an emotion that occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it. Further compounding the confusion is the word '''Covet''', which includes all the characteristics of the definition of 'envy' but also indicates a willingness to take the object coveted for themselves. For instance, if a person has a television set that you want, envy might drive you to buy a bigger, better TV (as you desire the quality of owning a nice television). If you coveted it, however, you'd be more likely to steal their TV (as you desire the exact television set they own). And if you're jealous, you're worried that they're coveting ''your'' TV.
** This confusion has caused no small amount of confusion with one of the Christian commandments. The command is correctly translated as 'Do not covet', but 'Do not envy' and, worse yet, 'Do not be jealous' are common incorrect translations.
* '''Lose''' vs. '''Loose''': More of a spelling issue than a language one; people still ''say'' them correctly. However, (particularly online), the two are used almost interchangeably, though it is more common to add an "o" than to subtract one. For the record, "lose" (rhymes with "booze") is a verb, and, in its intransitive form, has several meanings including to suffer defeat, to suffer loss or to depreciate in effectiveness. "Loose" (rhymes with "goose") is an adjective, and the opposite of tight. You can lose a game, but not tighten it. Your shoelaces can be loose, but you can't win them. Okay, technically shoelaces ''could'' be a prize...
** Loose can also be used as a verb, to mean "release" or "unfasten", but that usage is kinda archaic -- you've probably never heard it outside of Literature/TheBible or archery (one looses an arrow from a bow). It ''still'' isn't the opposite of "win" or "find", ever.
** Not only a spelling issue, but very often a "spell-check" type of issue, where the word could be a typo but will never be caught by spell-check.
** A particularly interesting example of this is a Swedish book called ''The Looser Handbook'' which is about the art of leading a life of constant failure. It only stands to reason that the author would fail at naming the book, since failure is what the book is about.
* '''Casualties''' are the people ''wounded'' and ''permanently crippled'' (physically or psychologically), missing, captured, and dead sustained [[StrategyVersusTactics during a military operation]] or in any other given period. There is a term the dead, missing, captured, and crippled alone: '''Irrecoverable Casualties'''. Those who merely died (sometimes including those dead of wounds or in captivity) constitute '''Fatalities'''. Note however that the definition of wounded is pretty fluid - it can mean anything from "minor stab wound requiring hospitalisation to be on the safe side" to "crippling but temporary phobia of footsteps" to "three limbs blown off and permanent loss of hearing". In other words just anything short of actual death.
** To quote the other wiki, "In military usage, a casualty is a person in service killed in action, killed by disease, disabled by injuries, disabled by psychological trauma, captured, deserted, or missing, but not someone who sustains injuries which do not prevent them from fighting." So if one received a minor stab wound and got stitched up and sent back to the front one would not be a casualty.
** Casualty is also not the adjective form of casual, as Music/{{Jewel}} learned in an [[http://www.mtv.com/news/1430602/jewel-kurt-loder-square-off-on-poetic-license/ infamous]] TV interview (and she [[DeathGlare was not happy about it.]])
* '''Invalid''' with regard to arguments is a matter of not having the correct form. It has nothing to do with the truth value of the statement. ''See generally'' SoundValidTrue.
** "Fido has four legs. Dogs have four legs. Therefore Fido is a dog." is invalid. "Fido has four legs. All animals with four legs are cats. Therefore Fido is a cat" is valid.
* '''CGI''': In VideoGames, the term is often misused to describe '''pre-rendered cutscenes'''. '''All''' videogames (except ones done entirely with FullMotionVideo) use CGI, which means "computer-generated imagery". Even ''VideoGame/PacMan'' and ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'' use CGI; their graphics were created by computer images. When a cutscene is debated on whether it shows real gameplay, there's no question whether it has CGI (unless it features live-action video). The question is whether the video was pre-rendered and recorded beforehand or if it features the actual game assets.
** In animation, CGI is used to mean "anything rendered in 3D software". 2D animation using computer rendering software (UsefulNotes/{{Adobe Flash}}/Animate, UsefulNotes/ToonBoom) are typically referred to by what program they were rendered in, despite being just as computer-generated as the 3D kind. Wiki/ThisVeryWiki's own AllCGICartoon page tends to list 3D works over computer-made 2D ones.
* '''MMO''' is commonly used to refer to an ''MMORPG'', an abbreviation for '''M'''assively '''M'''ultiplayer '''O'''nline '''R'''ole '''P'''laying '''G'''ame. While it makes sense to abbreviate the term, most people refer to an MMORPG as an "MMO", when "MMO" is merely a prefix, as any genre can be Massively Multiplayer and online. Most Massively Multiplayer Online Games happen to be {{RPG}}s because the formula had been experimented with the most, but if you refer to game as an "MMOG" or refer to ''VideoGame/{{Neocron}}'' or ''VideoGame/PlanetSide'' as an "MMOFPS" or ''Darkwind War On Wheels'' as an "MMOTBS", people will often look at you weirdly and not understand what you meant as other multiplayers, no matter ''how'' massive they are just call them "Multiplayer" or "Online".
* '''Otome Games''' are [[RomanceGame games with a female protagonist and male love interests]], with the main focus being the romance between the protagonist and male characters. Games for a female audience with a CastFullOfPrettyBoys, SelfInsert protagonist but no explicit romance with the protagonist are not otome games. ''VideoGame/ToukenRanbu'', ''VideoGame/{{A3}}'', ''VideoGame/TheIdolmasterSideM'', ''VideoGame/EnsembleStars'' and ''VideoGame/IDOLiSH7'' are sometimes labelled otome games, even though they technically aren't.
* A '''Protagonist''' is the principal character (or, more loosely, character''s'') of a work, typically the one from whose perspective it is narrated and usually ([[VillainProtagonist though not always]]) TheHero, or at least [[AntiHero the person we're meant to sympathise with]]. Strictly speaking, there can only be one protagonist. The second-most important character on the protagonist's side is the "{{deuteragonist}}", the third is the "tritagonist", and so forth. An '''Antagonist''' is a character who creates problems for the protagonist, and is thus typically [[{{Villains}} The Villain]] (although again, [[HeroAntagonist not always]]). It is '''''NOT''''' the other way round. Some people get this wrong, even though you'd think it obvious given that 'antagonist' obviously shares a root with 'antagonize'....
* '''[=MP3=]''' refers to either the MPEG standard popularly used to encode music or audio files, or a file using this standard. It is not the same as an '''[=MP3=] player''', which is either computer software or a physical media player which plays [=MP3s=], and it is not a catch-all for all kinds of digital audio.
** On a side note, [=MP3=] does not stand for MPEG-3 but for MPEG-1 Layer 3 (and MPEG-2 Part 3) which is a sound encoding mechanism for the MPEG-1 format. In order to avoid any further confusion, the MPEG (Moving Picture Expert Group) decided there would never be any MPEG-3 standard and thus they went from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4.
** This is made worse by Chinese manufacturers who simply bump the number after "MP" whenever they add a new feature, so we have [=MP3=] player, [=MP4=] player (their 'new feature' is video playback, but they're also unrelated to [=MPEG-4=] and don't support [=MPEG-4=] video at all), [=MP5=] player, [=MP6=] player...
* A '''riff''' is "a short, repeated phrase, frequently played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation". The way "riff" is often used, especially by [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 MST3K]], is as though the riff itself is an improvisation, and "riffing" is the act of coming up with something on the spot. It's actually the opposite: a riff is the same thing repeated over and over again, possibly with ''slight'' variation. The confusion likely comes about because riffs are used in jazz, and jazz is improvisational music; but improvisations are not made of riffs, they're made of longer, more complex melodic phrases. Improvisation is the spontaneous creation of a melody, and is not properly called "riffing". An example of "riffing" would be the guitar part in the verse of "You Really Got Me", "Come As You Are", or "Whole Lotta Love"; or in jazz, the repeated horn parts heard most famously in Count Basie arrangements: a short fragment that's repeated constantly and identically.
** as a note [no pun intended] when people refer to a "riff" or "riffing", what they are probably INTENDING to refer to is "scatting" - scat singing, specifically, although one can scat on any instrument; "scat" officially means "vocal improvisation with wordless vocables" (nonsense syllables generally, sometimes just "oooo" or "aaa", sometimes a single word used over and over, etc) but over the past decades has grown to mean ANY instrument improvising the melody, over the riff, in a jazz or jazz-based song or piece.
** On the other hand, Merriam-Webster dictionary describes riff as above (noting the possible etymologyis a shortening of the word 'refrain') but also gives another definitions, namely 'any variation or ''improvisation'''.
* Occasionally, a law-enforcement officer will refer to the scene of a brutal crime as being very "'''graphic'''". Well, duh, you're there and you're looking at it, one would expect it to be visual and realistic instead of merely implied. The idea of "graphic" violence in media isn't that it's {{Gorn}}, just that it's shown onscreen rather than implied.
** by the same token '''explicit''' doesn't mean rude or obscene (as people probably think due to those "explicit lyrics" labels) it means stated outright rather than just suggested.
* '''Rein''' vs. '''reign'''. "Reign" means to rule as royalty, "reins" are what one uses to guide a horse. Both involve leadership and sound exactly alike, and so are easily confused. A very common example is the phrase "free rein", which means letting loose of the reins and allowing a horse to wander as it pleases. This is often misused as "free reign", which doesn't even make sense: a King by definition has freedom to reign, it's what makes him a King. So to recap: "reign" refers to a ''state'' of having authority, while "free rein" or "being given the reins" refer to the ''actions'' of leadership in a situation. If there is a plural, it's almost always going to be "reins".
* '''Charisma''' refers to someone's speaking talents and ability to influence others through force of personality and diplomacy. While good looks help, someone is ''not'' charismatic because she looks good in a formal dress, or because he has blue eyes and a nice smile; similarly, just because someone is able to speak publicly and get their point across doesn't qualify them either, not unless people are cheering wildly for ''how'' the news is presented, rather than the facts themselves. For a historical example, UsefulNotes/{{Cleopatra}} was considered extremely charismatic, despite contemporary accounts of her being a very plain-looking woman.[[note]]Centuries of artists depicting her as a beautiful temptress have influenced the modern view of her.[[/note]]
* '''Calorie''' is a non-SI unit of energy. It is relatively small unit however, so caloric intake of foods is usually expressed in kilocalories, (1 kcal = 1000 calories). Thus an average recommended daily energy intake is not 2200 calories but 2200 kilocalories or 2,200,000 calories.
** A '''C'''alorie refers to a kilocalorie, while a '''c'''alorie refers to the base unit. This can get confusing when 'calorie' is at the beginning of a sentence, which without context, would be indistinguishable as to if it was between the normal unit or the large unit.
** Also, although it isn't an SI unit, it ''is'' a metric unit rather than Imperial or American customary.
* '''Stereophonic''' refers to an audio that has exactly two speakers, instead of one ('''mono''') or four ('''surround'''). It is slightly inaccurate to refer to a system with surround sound as a "stereo", but always inaccurate to refer to the output as being "stereo sound."
** Less commonly, it can be any sound the gives the illusion of being surrounded by a sound field. It's not useful stereo if the two speakers are stacked one on top of the other, or placed too close together as in a boombox.
* One's interest is '''piqued''', not ''peaked''. This mistake is understandable, since "peak" can be used as a verb to mean "maximize" or "climax"; though your English professor will still probably mark this as being wrong. [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII "Poque"]] [[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail is right out.]]
** Likewise, getting a preview of something means getting a '''sneak peek'''. A "sneak peak" would be a [[https://twitter.com/StealthMountain stealth mountain]]. In fact, someone's interest may be piqued by a good peek.
* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception Immaculate Conception]]''' refers to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by ''her'' mother Anna, specifically the belief that "from the first moment of her existence [... Mary] was preserved by God from the Original Sin and filled with sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth." Jesus' conception and birth from Mary was the '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Birth Virgin Birth]]'''. (Whether Mary actually was immaculately conceived is a huge theological dispute between Catholics and modern Protestants, so nothing more will be said about that. But if a Protestant says he doesn't believe in the "Immaculate Conception", he is ''not'' necessarily saying that Mary wasn't a virgin.)
** And the Immaculate ''Reception'' is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Reception something else entirely]]...
* A '''song''' is called "song" because there's singing in it. If there is no singing in it, it is not a song. There is a proper word for a musical composition without singing. It's a '''piece'''. In the context of popular music, one might call it a "track" (which encompasses music that does have singing and music that doesn't).
** Musical definitions are strange animals because composers are always PlayingWith definitions. Mendelssohn quite famously wrote piano pieces called or "Lieder ohne Worte," or "Songs without words." Even in German, the Lied was associated with singing, and Mendelssohn was PlayingWith the idea [[OlderThanRadio in the 19th century]]. Also, a "piece" can include singing, but it is normally limited to one where the singing is not the primary purpose, like Beethoven's 9th symphony. However, there is a song in that movement (which we know as "Ode to Joy"). Composers ''love'' to MindScrew with convention.
*** All of which gets frustrating when trying to put this kind of music into a computer, having to classify movements or recitatives as 'songs', composers as 'bands', operas as 'albums' and anything written before about 1920 as 'Classical', a weird appellation to, say, Medieval music, to lump it in with Puccini and Handel (neither of whom are really 'classical' either.)
* A '''neophyte''' is someone who is new to something (a newbie); it literally means "new/young/newly-planted plant". A '''neophile''' is someone who likes things that are new.
* '''Novitiate''' is the state, condition, or period of being a '''novice''', not the person. William Buckley fouls this up in ''Tucker's Last Stand''.
* An '''epidemic''' refers to the frequency of a disease substantially exceeding what is expected in recent history.
* '''Sushi''' is a food consisting of cooked rice mixed with vinegar ("shari") and other ingredients. It can contain a large variety of ingredients ranging from vegetables, seafood (mostly uncooked, but some are cooked as well), sauces, etc. The shari makes it sushi. '''Onigiri''' or '''(o)musubi''' is usually rice (no vinegar), another ingredient, wrapped in seaweed.
** Similarly, '''Sashimi''' is taken to be the the word for raw seafood by itself, but it actually refers to the way it is prepared (thin slices), and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions#Food_and_cooking can apply to other types of meat or vegetables]].
* '''Ichor''' originally meant the blood of gods or angels. In later times, it has somehow come to also mean pus. Fiction writers, however, like to use it as a "fancy-sounding" word for pretty much any liquid.
* '''Your''' and '''you're'''. "Your" is a possessive pronoun used to describe something as belonging to the person being addressed, while "you're" is a contraction of "you are". If "you are" would fit instead, then "your" is not the correct word.
** Likewise, '''it's''', and '''its''' have similar misuse. "Its" is a possessive pronoun that's usually used to describe what belongs to the subject in the sentence. "It's" is the contraction of "it is". If "it is" can fit into the sentence, then "its" is not the correct word. Likewise, if there's a sign of the subject having possession in the sentence, then "it's" does not apply. (A good way to make sure it's being used correctly is to speak the phrase as if there's no contraction. For example, "It's red" = "It is red" is correct. "It's walls" = "It is walls" is incorrect, and should be "Its walls".)
* '''Implicate''' means to be responsible for something, or to assign responsibility to someone. '''Insinuate''' means to subtly hint at something unpleasant. Both are used for "imply", whether positive or negative. Imply actual means to ''strongly'' hint at something.
* '''Pilot''' does not simply mean "the first episode of a TV show". It should be used if, and ''only'' if, the episode is made by itself with the intention of shopping it around to various networks who will judge whether it works well enough to commission a whole series, as in a "pilot program". ''Film/PulpFiction'', which popularized the term, actually made this distinction, but along the way the word has become conflated with '''premiere'''. This usage is especially incorrect when referring to animated shows, which often get a whole season commissioned in advance due to animation lead time, and the pilot or pitch demo, often made cheaply and quickly, is simply redone.
** The exception, obviously, is when the pilot is made and ''then'' broadcast as the first episode.
* '''Ripoff''' is either a bad financial scam where you are conned into buying a fake product, or something where you are tricked into giving money without receiving anything in return. A lot of people use "ripoff" to mean the general act of copying or mimicry in general, and in the form of entertainment, a '''Ripoff''' is apparently "[[TheyCopiedItSoItSucks Something that's similar to a movie I saw before]]." The origin of this misuse had to do with [[TheMockbuster Mockbusters]] trying to trick people into buying their product mistaking it for the product they actually wanted.
* '''JustForFun/{{Egregious}}''' has been used so egregiously on Wiki/ThisVeryWiki that it has its own page.
* Similarly '''Your Mileage Will Vary''' is used as a way of referring to Your Mileage May Vary taken UpToEleven on especially controversial issues that reach a point where [[BrokenBase there is no middle ground]]. Your Mileage May Vary comes from car commercials that say consumers might get a different amount of mileage than is advertised, and on this wiki, means that viewers might not agree with the statement. Using "Your Mileage Will vary" implies unanimous disagreement rather than inevitable controversy.
%% Do not bluelink any of the Your Mileage X phrases.
* The word '''{{Trope}}''' does not come from TV Tropes, and like "subversion" its meaning in the real world is different than on this site. In reality "trope" does not mean "storytelling device" but "the use of a word to have a meaning different than the usual one."
** It does almost fit; trope titles often use words differently than the literal definition, because they're slang or jargon that already existed, or for brevity, or to make a pun.
* The word '''logical''' does not mean "reasonable" or "the result of a well-shaped argument". It means "defined according to the rules of logic", logic being a number of highly specific ways to describe and analyze the interaction between set premises.
* One that shows up every now and again is '''equivocal''' to mean "equivalent". An equivocal statement is one that is ambiguous and open to interpretation (conversely, an unequivocal statement is one in which the meaning is clear).
* '''Presently''' does not mean "happening now" or "ongoing". It means "soon".
* '''Ambivalence''' is not the same as ''ambiguity'' or just 'not bothered'. if you feel ambivalent about a decision, you are torn by equally strong feelings in two (or more) directions. A child deciding whether to live with her mother or father after a divorce might feel ambivalent.
* The term '''"stepchild"''' is sometimes mistakenly used with children who are ''adopted'', rather than for children whose [[ParentWithNewParamour parents have married someone besides their other parent]]. For example, Lindesfarne of ''Webcomic/KevinAndKell'' is Angelique's adopted daughter, but after her adoptive parents' divorce, she became Kell's stepdaughter when she married her adoptive father Kevin.
* Something that is '''anonymous''' has no name attached. If there is a name attached but it doesn't match the one on the originator's passport, such as an internet username, it's '''pseudonymous'''.
* '''Cherubim''' (singular '''cherub''') are the alien looking creatures appearing in the book of Ezekiel. The chubby little winged cupids are called '''putti''' (or '''putto''' in singular), and don't really have anything to do with biblical angels.
* In the entertainment industry, there are '''indie''' producers and developers (short for independent) that create and release their own works without relying on a 3rd party to assist in their project, such as major developers or publishers. However, people often get meaning of indie movies/games/etc. wrong and think it means the product was made by people who did not have a lot of money. This also leads people to believe that indie developers that make a ton of money off of their work or use a major publisher to get their product out to the public have "sold out" to major corporations. In short, as long as a group of developers have total control over their creations and don't have anyone outside of their group influencing their work, then the developers are indie, whether they are large or small, profitable or unprofitable.
** The Independent Spirit Awards had to actually redefine its criteria for nominations after ''Film/{{Fargo}}'' won Best Picture. While it was technically an independent film, its budget was $7M, and not in the spirit (pun recognized) of the awards, which was intended to give low budget films their own recognition.
* In the context of wrestling, an '''escape''' is where one frees themselves from a hold, a '''counter''' is where one turns a hold being applied to them into a hold of their own and a '''reversal''' is a specific counter that results in you applying the hold your opponent just had you in.
** The confusion was referenced in Wrestling/RingOfHonor when Wrestling/CMPunk argued he shouldn't have been cost a rope break when he used them to reverse an arm hold applied by Wrestling/AJStyles instead of using them to as a means of escape. Unfortunately Punk allowed Styles to escape while arguing, weakening his own point and requiring ROH [[ObviousRulePatch to take another look at the rules]].
** In TNA, Don West had to explain the significance of someone finding a counter to the Canadian destroyer used by Petey William, after the fans had likely seen the move blocked, escaped or otherwise negated dozens of time. Even then, the move itself may never have been countered before but attempts to apply it had.
* Someone born with reproductive organs that are intermediate between male and female is not transgender or a hermaphrodite, they are '''intersexed'''. A true '''hermaphrodite''' is an organism with functional male and female parts in the same body, that can reproduce as either: a condition which occurs naturally in earthworms or snails, but never in humans.
* '''"Excessive"''' does not mean "a lot" or "a great deal". It means "too much".
* One can only commit '''treason''' if they are working with a foreign power. If it's a completely internal case of trying to overthrow the government, it's '''sedition'''.
* '''Cojones''' is Spanish for balls. '''Cajones''' is Spanish for drawers.
** Although, saying ''cajones'' in English could be a [[BilingualBonus bilingual pun]].
* '''Port and starboard''' do not mean left and right, but specifically ''the ship's'' left and right -- that is, the left and the right of a person on the ship facing towards the bow. The fore and aft directions are similarly measured relative to the vessel, not the speaker.
** In cases where a smaller boat or plane is being carried on a larger ship, "left" and "right" are always used when referring to the smaller boat or plane to prevent confusion. So if a plane is parked on a carrier deck facing towards the back of the ship, the left side of the plane is towards the starboard side of the ship.
* '''Entitled''' means that someone is given a title, authority or ''rightful'' ownership of something. Some people however use it as if it meant the opposite, "someone is claiming to deserve something, although he doesn't". Even on Wiki/TVTropes - see EntitledBastard, EntitledToHaveYou. The usage here refers to an unearned ''subjective feeling'' of entitlement, hence the common expression "sense of entitlement" - the person in question ''feels'' they deserve something, even though they don't. The correct way to use "entitled" would be saying the person feels or acts like they are entitled to something, not that they are "being" entitled.
* '''Simplistic''' is not a synonym for "simple". It means "too simple" or "simple to a fault", and is inherently pejorative.
* A '''sprite''', for video game terms, is a 2D image in video games that is completely flat and lacks 3D angles. People who have little knowledge on video game definitions assume that all characters that one sees in a game are sprites, which is not completely true; people confused 3D '''models''' for sprites and a model is a 3D shape that can be viewed from any angle. Some games like ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' invoke a 2D style, but most of them use 3D character models that are flattened down so they look 2D.
* For video games, '''graphics''' is what a viewer sees on their display or monitor. Many people assume that "graphics" means what the video game looks like. In actuality, people usually mean the game's visual style when they describe a game's graphics.
* '''Open Beta''' and '''Closed Beta''' get heavily confused when people try to differentiate the two terms. A beta that is closed off to the public means that only people who get handpicked by developers via invites, a dedicated team formed to test the beta, and/or has a limited amount of slots available if the developers needs just a certain amount of people. An open beta means it's fully open to the public and anyone can take part without slots being limited. Some video games are available in its beta state and sometimes players can buy the game as such to test the game and keep the final version of the game once it is finished. Technically speaking, a "paid, open beta" is an oxymoron, since "beta test" is defined as a test of a computer product prior to wide commercial release. No matter what a company tries to tell you, once they're accepting money from the general public, they're selling a product, not conducting a beta test (although the line gets blurry in cases where the beta costs money, but is cheaper than the final release, such as ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}''). This is further confused by the fact that "beta" used to imply that the software was "incomplete" in some way; in the modern world of seamless online patches and updates, no software product is ever "complete" until the company stops issuing new patches and updates, often years after the product has come out of beta.
* Political ideologies in general suffer from a lot of confusion which can make discussions very hard. The confusion of what '''left''' and '''right''' actually mean, for example, or what is the relationship between '''conservatism''' and economic policies, or perhaps the most confusing word '''liberal''' which has different meanings in different countries which can, at worst, be the opposite of each other.
* '''[[UsefulNotes/HighFunctioningAutism Autistic]]''', at least on the Internet, gets used to mean "'retarded' only less so" more and more often in recent years - while less for perceived stupidity and more for social awkwardness (so you'll never find someone calling an inanimate object autistic even online), the general effect is the same. "Autistic" can also be used to refer to someone who has an exceptional focus on a particular activity, even if the person being described does not have an autism spectrum disorder at all. This is most likely due to the {{GIFT}}; anonymity means both that people feel freer to use "autistic" to mean "asshole" despite the UnfortunateImplications, and that people feel freer to use autism as an excuse for ''being'' an asshole (whether they're actually diagnosed or not), which only perpetuates the stereotype.
* '''AsymmetricMultiplayer''', as originally defined by Creator/{{Nintendo}} in reference to certain UsefulNotes/WiiU games, is a multiplayer mode in which the different players have totally different roles and capabilities, unlike most multiplayer games, where all the players are generally doing the same thing and playing the game the same way. This does ''not'' include games where players can be different characters (e.g., a magic user and a sword user) with slightly different abilities but carry out essentially the same goal in the same way. This instead refers to games where the roles, abilities and gameplay experience are drastically different. Misuse of the term became an issue with ''VideoGame/StarTrekTheVideoGame'' and several other games revealed and/or discussed in the period during/after [=E3=] 2012, when the development teams for the games claimed that their CoOpMultiplayer counted as Asymmetric Multiplayer (probably stemming from a desire to [[FollowTheLeader ride on the coattails of the initial Wii U hype]]).
* '''AIDS''' is often used to refer to the notorious sexually-transmitted disease that cripples the host's immune system. "AIDS" stands for '''a'''cquired '''i'''mmuno'''d'''eficiency '''s'''yndrome, and many people don't understand the "syndrome" part. You cannot ''catch'' AIDS; rather, you are reduced to it by being infected with the aforementioned STD, which by the way is called HIV ('''h'''uman '''i'''mmunodeficiency '''v'''irus), and having it beat the snot out of your immune cells. It is possible for someone to have HIV, but not AIDS, so long as their immune system is still intact. In addition, no one dies from AIDS - they die from ''complications'' related to the condition. (Simiarly, no one can die from alcholism, either. They can only die from ''complications'' due to it, such as cirrhosis of the liver.)
* '''Maltese cross''' is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_cross a eight-pointed cross]] which has the form of four "V"-shaped elements joined at the center, most famously used by UsefulNotes/TheKnightsHospitallers. Colloquially, however, the term "maltese cross" is sometimes applied to the ''cross pattée'', [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_patt%C3%A9e a cross which has arms narrower at the centre]], and broader at the perimeter, most often associated with the Prussian and German military usage.
* '''Scandinavia''': UsefulNotes/{{Finland}} and UsefulNotes/{{Iceland}} are not Scandinavian countries, though they are sometimes referred to as such. Scandinavia consists of UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}}, UsefulNotes/{{Norway}}, and UsefulNotes/{{Denmark}}. (They are, however, part of the Nordic region, as are the Scandinavian countries. There's also a distinction between Scandinavia--a political-cultural concept--and the Scandinavian Peninsula, a geographical feature which excludes Denmark but includes part of Finland.) Finns, for their part are neither Scandinavian nor Nordic in the ethnic sense; some anthropologists go so far as to describe them as Eurasian, given their common ancestry with certain Siberian (Asiatic Russian) peoples.
* '''Sex[=/=]Gender''': The distinction between sex and gender. The sexes (male and female) as the two divisions in which many organisms are placed, based upon their reproductive role and the genders (masculine and feminine) referring to ''social'' characteristics (such as behavioral norms) associated with males and females, respectively. The use of gender to mean the same thing as sex [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender#Etymology_and_usage dates back to the 14th century]], whereas the use of gender to mean gender roles only dates to John Money's work in the 1950s. So it is not incorrect by any stretch for people to continue using the original meaning of the word (which in fact still precedes the gender roles [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender meaning in the dictionary]] ).
** The distinction between transgenderism and transsexuality does not necessarily have anything to do with genitals or whether or not someone has had sex reassignment surgery (SRS). "Transgender" is usually understood as an umbrella term for anyone whose sex and gender aren't totally congruent, or who strongly deviates from gender norms. "Transsexual" means someone who permanently transitions from one gender to another, usually through medical treatments like hormones and surgery as well as social and legal changes, but no individual step is necessary for being transsexual. SRS doesn't have much to do with it. Many transsexuals can't have SRS or choose not to. Furthermore, "transgender" is already an adjective. Saying "transgendered" is simply redundant.
* The words '''nemesis''' and '''archenemy''' are synonyms, as both words mean "one's greatest enemy". The "arch" modifier in "archenemy" signifies "greatest", while the word "nemesis" doesn't require a modifier because it already means "one's greatest enemy" by itself. "Arch-nemesis" is not only incorrect but [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment redundant]], since it would mean "one's greatest greatest enemy".
* The term '''pay to win''' is used in many video games that entices the player to buy items or enhancements with real life money in order to have an easier time in beating the game or getting a step ahead of the competition. Many free to play games are designed to be frustrating to play normally and have heavy restrictions on what the player can do unless the person forks over money to gain and advantage. Pay to win is also applied to competitive games where a player can buy enhancements to defeat their opponents with little effort, thus only people with money to burn can beat everyone else that didn't pay. However, people often use pay to win on any video game with DLC that contains new weapons or other items, even if the game itself can be played just fine without the extra content, the DLC content themselves being on par with vanilla content, or if the game lacks any competitive aspect. The term in general carries negative connotations, with the implication that those that pay real life money have advantages that cannot be obtained by those that play for free. People have also used "pay to win" when it comes to buying cosmetic items in a game where said items do nothing to enhance the player's game other than simply changing how they look because some people believe obtaining all the items in the game is a way of "winning".
* The words '''atom''' and '''molecule''', and their derived terms ("molecular", etc.) are not synonymous. Molecules are structures formed from atoms. By strict usage, "molecule" only refers to structures held together by covalent bonds, so e.g. a block of metal is not made of molecules - its atoms are connected by metallic bonds.
** A molecule is also not the same as a mixture. In a molecule, atoms are chemically bonded together but in a mixture they are not. For example, air is (mostly) a ''mixture'' of nitrogen and oxygen, as it contains nitrogen and oxygen ''molecules''.
* In the Wiki/SCPFoundation notably, you will very often see the word '''amnesiac''' referring to substances that cause loss of memory. An amnesiac is actually a ''person'' suffering from amnesia. A substance causing amnesia would be an '''amnestic'''. However the word is so deeply rooted in SCP terminology that it's all but impossible to do anything about it. The Wiki only told newer authors that they prefer using "amnestic" instead of "amnesiac", but would forgive any uses of the latter.
* Challenging times can make it hard to make '''ends meet'''. No food item called '''ends meat''' (or '''end's meat''') has ever existed, outside of phonetic incomprehension or [[{{Feghoot}} stories that end with absolutely horrid puns]]. Imagine trying to tie a rope or cord around something with insufficient or barely sufficient length (or, conversely, with plentiful length, though it's usually only mentioned in the context of scarcity), and you'll understand the sensation the phrase is meant to convey.
* '''Niggardly''' is a perfectly innocent word meaning "stingy, miserly, not generous." It does not have nor has it ever had any connection to a certain [[NWordPrivileges infamous racial slur]]-- its origins date back to the 1300s by way of Old Norse, long before the African slave trade was a thing-- except that unfortunately it kind of ''sounds'' like that word. (Etymologically, it's related not to the N-word but to "niggle" as in nitpick, quibble about small details.) Sure enough, well-meaning but small-vocabularied people who succumb to PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad have [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22 created many controversies about it]], to the point that it's probably wiser to avoid it altogether today.
* A '''regimen''' is a health-related routine, such as diet, exercise, and/or medicine. A '''regiment''' is a military unit (traditionally commanded by a colonel). A '''regime''' is a government or leadership (usually with negative, authoritarian connotations). These three words often end up shuffled into one another's places.
* '''Android''', '''cyborg''' and '''robot''' are not synonyms, as a quick glance at their respective etymologies should make clear. "Android" is derived from the Greek prefix ''"andro"'' ("man") and the suffix ''"oid"'' ("resembling"), and it means "An artificial creation built in the likeness of a human. "Cyborg" is a contraction of "cybernetic organism", and it means "A lifeform with a combination of organic and mechanical body parts". "Robot" is derived from the Russian ''"rabota"'' ("to work"), and it means "An autonomous machine built to perform a specific task". The term ''android'' technically refers to an artificial life form that resembles a male human. The female equivalent would be a ''gynoid''.
* Something's '''inception''' is its beginning. Courtesy of [[{{Film/Inception}} the eponymous movie]], this is widely misunderstood. Since a great deal of the movie revolves around dreams within dreams--and later, by MemeticMutation, anything within the same thing--a lot of people have, by association, gotten the idea it means the latter.[[note]] In the movie, "inception" refers to the '''ends''' of the protagonist's mission, not its '''means'''; they call it "inception" because they're trying to give their target a radical new idea, which will begin a new phase in his life.[[/note]]
* A '''desert''' is any place with low rainfall and vegetation, regardless of the climate. Thus, Antarctica is a desert.
* A '''Good Samaritan Law''' is not a law which compels someone to help a person in jeopardy. That is a '''Duty To Rescue''' law. A Good Samaritan law grants legal protection to anyone who attempts to help another person in the midst of a crisis. There have indeed been cases where someone offering aid was later sued by the person they attempted to help.
* '''Centurion''' is not an all-encompassing term for a soldier in Ancient Rome; it was an upper-level rank in the Roman military (roughly analogous to "Captain" or "Major") specifically designating the commander of a '''Century''' (a unit of around 100 soldiers, hence the name). A baseline Roman soldier (analogous to "Private") was a '''Legionary''' (not '''Legionnaire'''; that comes from the FrenchForeignLegion).
* For the term '''let alone''' as in "X is not Y, let alone Z", Y should be the ''less'' far-fetched idea. For example, "bronze is not as valuable as silver, let alone gold." Sometimes, the opposite gets used, that is, "bronze is not as valuable as gold, let alone silver."
** The same rule applies when two entities are specified, such as [[VideoGame/HalfLife "I never thought I'd see a resonance cascade, let alone create one"]]
* For United States citizens, '''Freedom of Speech''' means a person has the right to criticize and speak out against the government without needing to fear repercussions from said government. It does not mean "I cannot be silenced for saying anything I want to" since you can get in trouble for saying something that implies a threat to someone else (even if you claim to be joking), nor does it allow you to say something offensive on a privately owned web site whose owner(s) have the full right to ban you for breaking their rules.[[note]]To put it in a way that's relatable to Tropers in the U.S.: If one were to vandalize or make otherwise grossly-unacceptable edits to the TV Tropes Wiki, no part of the First Amendment disallows the wiki staff from banning the offending Troper.[[/note]]
** To suggest otherwise is like saying the right to Freedom Of Assembly [[InsaneTrollLogic means you can have a party at someone else's house without permission whenever you want]]
* '''Emigrate''' and '''Immigrate''' refer to the same concept, but the difference between the two words is that "emigrate" refers to moving ''out'' of a country while "immigrate" refers to moving ''into'' one. '''Export''' and '''Import''' are a similar source of confusion regarding objects rather than people. Think of it as like "exhale" and "inhale".
* '''Semantics''' is literally the study of meanings of words and phrases, and how they relate to the phonetic strings used to convey them. When you say about two different terms, ‘This is semantics,’ you are in fact saying they mean two different things rather than that the difference is negligible. Similarly, you could say that:
** the difference between ‘cat’ as an animal and ‘cat’ as a jazz player is semantic;
** the difference between ‘pray’ and ‘prey’ is semantic, orthographic (i.e. in writing), and syntactic (you can’t pray on someone, at least not in the same meaning);
** the difference between ‘kid’ and ‘child’ is phonological (they’re obviously pronounced differently) and orthographic, and while the difference is, for the most part, not semantic (i.e. both terms refer to a human between the ages of 2~3 and ~12, although the former could also mean ‘young goat’), it is also pragmatic (i.e. you wouldn’t use the former in formal conversation);
** The difference between Missouri (‘miz-ZURR-ree’) and Missouri (‘miz-ZURR-ruh’) is purely phonological/dialectical.
* The term '''reboot''' is sometimes used in reference to a new installment of a franchise that differs from the original in terms of art style or premise, when the term specifically applies to [[ContinuityReboot an adaptation that restarts continuity for the sake of telling a new interpretation of the franchise's characters and events]]. If the new series is still in continuity with the original incarnation, then it would be a '''revival''' (some people distinguish between the former and latter using the terms '''hard reboot''' and '''soft reboot''').
* '''Arab''' refers to people who speak Arabic. It is not a term for Muslims in general (There are Christian, Druze, and even Jewish Arabs, and most Muslims come from non Arab countries). Similar, Afghanis [[note]] who speak primarily Pashto and Dari, types of Persian. [[/note]]. Iranians [[note]] Who speak Persian [[/note]] or Pakistanis [[note]] Who have multiple languages, but primarily speak Urdu, a language related to Hindi[[/note]] are not Arabs, although all use a similar script to Arabic.
* '''Hindu''' refers to the [[UsefulNotes/{{Hinduism}} religion]], as well as an individual who practices it. '''Hindi''' refers to the language. Also, just because something is Indian doesn't mean it's Hindi or Hindu. There are multiple Indian religions and languages that share only a small if any similarity to Hindi. However, Hindu is also used as a synonym for someone from India.
* A '''Monkey''' is a type of primate, usually one with tails that live in trees. An '''Ape''' (which includes gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans) is not considered a monkey, although they belong in the same suborder (Catarrhini) as Old World Monkeys. Apes don't have a tail, have larger brains than monkeys, and tend to be larger than most monkeys. '''Simian''' refers to both apes and monkeys. Lampshaded in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' where the Librarian, an Orangutan, is annoyed at being called a Monkey.
* In common use, '''rape''' and '''sexual assault''' are used interchangeably. '''Sexual assault''' is defined as any physical sexual contact perpetrated against a person without their consent or otherwise against their will. '''Rape''' is a specific form of sexual assault involving penetration.
* '''Semen''' is the liquid that comes out during male ejaculation. '''Sperm''' are specifically the male reproductive cells which are present in the semen of fertile males. It is indeed possible to ejaculate semen without sperm if he's infertile.
* '''Parasite''' is sometimes used, especially in fiction, to refer to something that drains life from its host, even to the point of death. Real parasites try not to kill their hosts; lethal "parasites" are actually called pathogens ([[ThePlague diseases]]) or [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitoid parasitoids]].
* '''Geneva Conventions''' are the international conventions binding their signatories to observe specific conduct toward refugees, captives and prisoners in the time of war. It has nothing to do with the agreement to abstain from the use of some types of weapons as this subject is covered by the '''Hague Conventions'''.
* '''Remake''' and '''remaster''' are used interchangeably in the video game field whenever a video game from the past gets rereleased with improved graphical fidelity. A '''remake''' is a video game that is rebuilt from the ground up with the intention of adding/changing levels, rewriting the story, and using new gameplay mechanics that couldn't have been done in the original game. A '''remaster''' is simply taking the same video game and giving it a visual upgrade (and possibly a new feature or two) while everything else remains the same.
* '''Samurai''' is not a synonym for a traditional Japanese warrior but it specifically means a warrior who is bound by feudal agreement with a lord. A vassal in other words. A general word for any person belonging to warrior caste is ''bushi''. A ''bushi'' serving no lord is called ''ronin''.
** Similarly, a knight is technically not a heavily-armed and armored (and possibly mounted) warrior in the medieval-European style - the term refers to an individual of that time period within the social class of knight, which was lower nobility and inevitably could fight in the aforementioned style. There actually is a term for a warrior capable of fighting with a lance in heavy armor upon a horse, independent of their social class: A man-at-arms. Interestingly, etymology seems to indicate that the term knight was originally used around this loosely before the social class arose and the term man-at-arms then came around for the difference.
* Television announcers in both the US and Canada routinely use the word '''common-law''' husband or wife to denote the person someone is living with. The act of cohabitation, no matter how long, ''never'' creates a legal relationship in the U.S., and only rarely in Canada.
* '''Vapid''': A word meaning "uninspired", "vacuous", or "bland", that has come to be used heavily by the online community for movies they don't like. Becomes hilarious (or infuriating) when the thing about the movie that turns them off is the exact opposite of being vapid. ie. it is inspired and deep, but goes in a direction the person doesn't care for.
* '''Exeunt''' is not a fancy synonym for '''exit'''. Etymologically, "exit" is the third-person singular present active indicative of the Latin verb ''exeō'', and "exeunt" its third-person plural present active indicative. Thus, in stage directions, "exit" is used for only one actor (e.g., Exit Hamlet), and "exeunt" for two or more (e.g., Exeunt Romeo and Juliet).
* A '''crescendo''' is NOT the loud climax of a piece of music or other sound -- the word you want is, well, '''climax.''' ''Crescendo'' (Italian: "I wax, I grow greater") refers to the ''process of getting louder'', an increase in volume over time, which ultimately may lead to a climax (or instead subside again in a '''decrescendo.''') "The noise rose to a crescendo" is flat-out wrong, in fact semi-redundant (rather like "His speed increased to an acceleration"), and will produce winces among the musically-trained.
* '''{{Muppet}}''', apart from use as an insult, is repeatedly used (even on Wiki/ThisVeryWiki!) to refer to advanced rubber puppets of the type seen in ''Film/TheDarkCrystal'' and ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. In reality, Creator/JimHenson himself said that those characters are not Muppets, but rather [[http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Muppets_vs_Creatures Creatures]]. ''Muppet'' refers specifically to the felt-type characters seen in ''Series/SesameStreet'', ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' and ''Series/FraggleRock'', because they are a {{Portmanteau}} of "marionette" and "puppet".[[note]]What about Big Bird? Or is that a costume?[[/note]] It's also a trademarked name, meaning that if Creator/{{Disney}} (the currect rights holder for the name) doesn't say something is a Muppet, it's not a Muppet. (*Cough*[[Franchise/StarWars Yoda]]*cough*)
* Contrary to what some believe, '''arbitrary''' does not mean the same thing as "random" or "ever-changing." It refers to a decision, definition, or policy which ''lacks a basis in prior precedent''. It is true that policies based largely on arbitration usually change rapidly and seemingly at random, but that is only a side effect. It is not the definition of the word.
* Being '''agnostic''' does not mean that a person is "undecided" about the existence of a god; it means that they believe that that both the existence or nonexistence of the divine is ''inherently'' unknowable. This is the reason for the word's Greek etymology: it comes from the prefix ''"a-"'' (meaning "lacking" or "without") and the root word ''"gnosis"'' (meaning "knowledge").[[note]] Technically, it should also be pronounced "AY-noss-tick" rather than "AGG-noss-tick", since the "g" is silent in the Greek word ''"gnosis"''. But that's another issue.[[/note]]
* "Please '''bare''' with me". No, I don't know you well enough. But if you like, I'll try and '''bear''' with you (in the metaphorical sense of following where you're going).
* '''[[VirusMisnomer Virus]]''' and '''bacteria'''[[note]] Also note that 'bacteria' is a plural, with the the singular form being 'bacterium'- but that's another issue. [[/note]] are often used interchangeably to mean 'pathogen' (i.e. a microorganism that causes disease), but are actually specific types of microorganism and are very different. Viruses are non-living, can only replicate inside host cells, are always pathogenic, and are far smaller than bacteria. In contrast, bacteria are alive, can reproduce by themselves, and are far larger than viruses. In addition, many of them are not pathogenic- your skin is literally covered with mostly harmless bacteria. Viruses and bacteria also cause different diseases, which is a fact many people ignore- for example, people worry about bacteria from people with flu, even though flu is a viral disease.
* '''Fluid''' is not a synonym of '''liquid''', as a fluid is anything that can flow. This includes liquids, gases and plasma.
* '''Sulphur''' is an element which, under standard conditions, is a yellow solid, which means it does not have a smell because in order for a substance to have a smell it has to be a gas. However, many people still compare smelly things to sulphur (for example, by saying that something which smells bad "smells like sulphur"). The misconception that sulphur has a smell may have arisen from confusion between sulphur, sulphur dioxide (which is formed when sulphur burns) and hydrogen sulphide (which decomposes to form elemental sulphur, meaning it's often found near sulphur), as the latter two chemicals are both odourants.
** And while we're on the subject, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the body in charge of chemical nomenclature, spells it "sulfur". (This was a compromise between British and American English speakers, in exchange for the British English spelling of "aluminium".)
* A '''[[LoopholeAbuse loophole]]''' is an unintentional gap or grey area in the law usually caused by inadequate descriptions and definitions. A '''provision''' or an '''exemption''' [[note]]The later term usually refers to taxes while the former refers to everything else[[/note]] is a written in exception to the law and is very much intentional. Provisions and exemptions are often mistaken for loopholes, especially by people seeking to remove provisions. For example only a small minority of corporate tax "loopholes" are actually loopholes while the rest are very much intentional tax exemptions.
* A '''softlock''' is a particular kind of software freeze, in which the program still runs, but none of the user's input is functional. Beginning in 2017, some members of the ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' fandom have been using the word to refer to situations where the player cannot progress farther in the game, which is better known as being "{{unwinnable}}", or just plain "getting stuck". The root of this confusion appears to be that around that time, the [=YouTuber=] WebVideo/{{Pikasprey}} Yellow uploaded a video titled "How to Escape Lorelei's Game-Ending Softlock", about one possible unwinnable scenario which completely takes control away from the player thanks to a design oversight, making it a true softlock. From this, his watchers generalized the word to ''all'' cases of UnwinnableByInsanity, even though none of the others qualify. Pikasprey himself has since begun a new video series titled "[=SoftlockPicking=]", about his Houdini-esque ways of escaping these "unwinnable" situations the viewers get him into, which unfortunately would appear to spread and perpetuate this incorrect usage.
* '''Lava''' and '''magma''', while related, are not one and the same. Lava is molten liquid rock that has been expelled from a volcano and is flowing on the surface whereas magma is the same substance that's inside the volcano and has not ejected to the surface. Due to lava being used to describe magma in most video games and films, lava is used as the catch all term for liquid rock no matter where it's situated.
* '''Refute''' means ''to provide evidence to prove falsehood''. If somebody insists they are refuting a claim demand they do so.
* A '''run-on sentence''' is not "a very long sentence". A run-on sentence is a grammatical error when two independent clauses either lack proper punctuation separating them, or a period indicating that they are two sentences.[[labelnote:e.g.]]"I went to the market Jane went home." is a run-on sentence. It can be corrected either by adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction ("I went to the market, and Jane went home."), a semicolon or similar punctuation ("I went to the market; Jane went home."), or by making it two sentences with a period ("I went to the market. Jane went home.").[[/labelnote]]. A three thousand word-long sentence can still be grammatical, and won't be a run-on sentence as long as it uses proper punctuation and coordinating conjunctions.
* '''Beta''' or '''beta male''' is often used to mean "man who isn't manly enough", however this is inconsistent with actual animal behavior. In a pack the betas serve more as the NumberTwo to the alpha, but still outrank the rest of the pack and may even [[KlingonPromotion kill their masters and take over]]. The most common example of the alpha/beta male dynamic, wolf packs, is also itself a DeadUnicornTrope. Wolf packs in the wild are simply families, and the alpha male and female are the parents. The researcher who first popularized that theory, L. David Mech, was observing wolves in zoos, where unrelated canines are grouped together and they take on more of a prison mentality. Mech eventually renounced the theory once he saw that wolves in the wild don't act that way.
* People often confuse '''Negative reinforcement''' with punishment. It actually means rewarding someone by taking ''away'' a bad thing, e.g. "Do what we say and we'll take your handcuffs off." In operant conditioning, the phrase "negative reinforcement" makes a pair with "positive reinforcement"; they both "reinforce", that is they both increase the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated. "Positive" and "negative" here do not carry the meaning of "good" and "bad", but rather the mathematical meaning of "adding" and "taking away". Therefore:
** Positive reinforcement: adding a stimulus to increase the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You cleaned your room! Here's some candy."''
** Negative reinforcement: removing a stimulus to increase the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You cleaned your room! I'll stop nagging you about it."''
** Positive punishment: adding a stimulus to decrease the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You left dirty clothes everywhere again! You're grounded."''
** Negative punishment: removing a stimulus to decrease the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You left dirty clothes everywhere again! You're not getting your allowance this week."''
* '''Terminal velocity''' is the speed at which a falling object doesn't accelerate any further no matter how long it falls, because drag and buoyancy are cancelling any further acceleration. A meteor, for example, does ''not'' reach terminal velocity at any point - it's already moving faster than that when it enters the atmosphere, and goes through it too quickly to slow down. The term also has nothing to do with the degree of lethality of the falling thing's impact, either to the item itself or to whatever it falls on.
* The term '''graphic novel''' is sometimes said to mean either "a comic book for adults" or "a comic book that's longer than single monthly issue". The actual definition is "A long-form work of graphic fiction that's published as a single volume rather than serialized". There are quite a few graphic novels written for children and young readers (''[[ComicBook/SmileandSisters Smile]]'' and ''ComicBook/AmericanBornChinese'' are two notable examples), and many long-form works of graphic fiction are originally published as multiple single issues before being collected and bound. Case in point: Creator/AlanMoore's ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'' and Creator/NeilGaiman's ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' are often referred to as graphic novels, but they're actually not; ''Watchmen'' is a multi-part limited series that was originally published in single-issue installments before being collected as a single volume, while the ''Sandman'' series was originally an ongoing monthly comic book before it was published as a series of paperback collections.
* '''Unique''' means one of a kind. It does ''not'' mean unusual or special. Thus being "more unique" is like being "more pregnant" it just doesn't make sense. You ''could'' however say "almost unique" if there are only two of the thing in question.
* '''Infinitesimal''' means really small ''not'' really big. (think "infinitely small").
* Members of the far right often use '''Cultural Marxism''' (or '''Post-modern Neomarxism''') to mean "anything I don't like." While Cultural Marxism ''was'' a real denomination of Marxism taught at the Frankfurt School, the term in this far-right context characterizes the ideas and motivations of any number of different left-wing groups, many of whom are not aligned with each other or with the Frankfurt School, or similar in any way. Used in this way, the term has no meaning aside from being a piece of political invective. If it is understood to mean "the left," then it is imprecise and leads to the impression that the left are a unified Marxist front, which is ridiculous to anyone on the left, or anyone who has observed the left at any length: the left is quite as diverse and prone to infighting as the right, as it is defined as half of the left-right political spectrum. To sum up: neither of the words is particularly meaningful in that phrase as it is used by the far right.
* '''Atheism''' is lack of belief in a god or gods, while '''agnostic''' means being unsure whether there are any god(s). '''Nontheism''' usually refers to religions which don't have any gods, such as Buddhism.
* '''Prodigal''' is the opposite of "thrifty" or "frugal", meaning "wasteful", "frivolous", "Given to reckless or irresponsible spending" or "Living beyond one's means". But the most famous use of the word--by far--is in "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" from [[Literature/TheFourGospels the Gospel of Luke]], a story about an irresponsible young man who returns home to his parents after carelessly spending all of his money and winding up destitute. Because of this, it's often assumed to mean "Making a much-anticipated return after a long absence". But the Prodigal Son was "prodigal" because he spent all of his money, not because he was welcomed home by his parents afterwards.
* The idiom '''The exception proves the rule''' is often misused as a HandWave for any inconsistency in a person's argument, despite how this makes no sense [[FridgeLogic if you actually think about it]], e.g., If someone says "all birds are black" does the existence of doves prove they're right? Of course not. The real meaning of the saying is more akin to "the exception proves the rule applies by default" i.e if you see a sign at an intersection that says "no U-turn" you can infer that a U-turn is permitted whenever there ''isn't'' a sign forbidding it.
* '''Circa''' means "approximately" and is usually used to refer to dates. Therefore, you shouldn't use it when the exact date or other number is known: "[[AliceAndBob Alice was born circa 1987]]" is fine, "Alice was born circa May 5th, 1987" is not.
* A '''reprisal''' is an attack, particularly in warfare, carried out in retaliation for a previous attack. It is ''not'' the repetition of a musical number or a performance; that would be a '''reprise'''. Even Wiki/ThisVeryWiki made this mistake in the title of the trope RoleReprise, which was titled "Role Reprisal" for years.
* '''Real''' is an adjective, '''really''' is an adverb. While the former is often used in place of the latter (e.g., "She's a real nice girl"), this is considered colloquial at best and straight up wrong at worst, unless you meant she is a girl who is both nice and real as in not imaginary.
* By the same token: '''bad''' is an adjective and '''badly''' is an adverb. Thus, you ''probably'' mean you feel '''bad'''. To feel '''badly''' would mean your ability to feel is impaired.
* To '''earn''' money means to be given it in exchange for performing some work, service etc. To be given money for nothing is to simply '''get''' money.
* '''Brainchild''' refers to the concept or product created by a brain, not the owner of the brain doing the creating. For example, the World Wide Web is the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, not the other way round. The logical inverse would be something like '''brainparent''' but that's never caught on.
* '''Satire''' is not synonymous with "a joke", as people often misuse it to mean when saying "that was just satire", to mean "that was just a joke" (sometimes as a JustJokingJustification, though just as often out of ignorance). Satire has to be poking fun at a specific thing (be it a work of fiction or something in real life.) For example, the film ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' is a satire of ''Franchise/StarWars'', but just calling any comedy a satire is incorrect.
* To '''Care About''' someone is to have sympathy for them or concern for their well being. To '''Care For''' someone is either to literally take care of the person, or, idiomatically, to like that person or thing.
* '''Mansplaining''' is when a man condescendingly explains a subject to a woman, especially if it's a subject where she has expertise ("Whitesplaining," "Straightsplaining," "Cis-splaining," and others are related terms). Certain...sectors of social media have begun using that word ''any'' time a man disagrees with a woman online, regardless of his own expertise or any legit points he makes.
* '''People of Color''' refers to all racial minorities in countries where whites are the majority. It is not just a "nice" way to refer to black people.
* '''Deign''' isn't a "fancier" way of saying "dare". It means to do something you feel is beneath you, such as: "I didn't deign to respond to such a stupid comment."
* A '''Majority''' is over half, or 50 percent. A '''Supermajority''' is over two thirds, or about 66.6 percent. A '''Plurality''' is more than any other group/category etc, although less than 50 percent (e.g., if candidate A gets 40 percent of the votes, and the other three candidates get 20 percent each, candidate A gets the plurality of the votes).
* For some reason, it's become fashionable for people on the internet to use '''Classical Liberal''' to mean something like "conservative-lite". The correct meaning of "Classical Liberalism" is something more like what's now called '''Libertarianism.'''
* A train's '''Conductor''' is not its driver. That would be the '''Engineer.''' Conductors are the attendants who check tickets and assist passengers during the trip.
* '''Millenials''' are a generation of people born somewhere between the early 80's and the mid-90's. It does not mean "young person." If anything, the generation is approaching middle age.
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Moderately Pedantic]]
* '''Addict''' in adjective form is "addictive". However, clumsy attempts to mangle it into this form tend to fall to "addicting" instead, which is actually a gerund (which is a noun) or even a verb, but not an adjective. To put it simply, if you were to say "Cocaine is addicting" you would be implying that cocaine is, right now, in the process of getting someone addicted. While that may be true it's probably not what the speaker actually meant to say.
** In technical medical terms, "addictive" refers only to substances which, when their use by a habitual users is discontinued, result in physical withdrawal symptoms. Thus you get people insisting that things like marijuana and [=MMOs=] are not "addictive," which is [[ExactWords technically true]] for a given definition of "addictive," but does not address the more realistic concern that they might be ''habit-forming'' to an unhealthy degree in some users.
** Even more confusingly, there is a distinction sometimes made between addiction and '''dependence'''. Addiction here means that you have cravings for something if deprived of it; dependence means that you will have withdrawal symptoms; but being dependent on something (like a medication) does not necessarily mean you are addicted to it, and being addicted to something does not mean you are dependent on it (note this is almost the opposite of the definition above). For example, a diabetic is ''dependent'' on insulin, but not addicted to it.
* '''Anarchy''' literally means "without a ruler", coming from the roots "an-" or "no" and "archy" or "rule". Anarchism is a political position opposed to government as well as to other forms of hierarchy or authority. Anarchists believe that social harmony can be more easily maintained through cooperation rather than competition. However, the word "anarchy" has come to mean the opposite: [[AnarchyIsChaos a state of violent chaos due to a lack of central authority]]. The word "anarchist" has also been used to mean a [[BombThrowingAnarchists terrorist or sower of discord]], a perception influenced by a rash of terrorist acts and assassinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which were committed by anarchists. And even theorists [[WeAREStrugglingTogether didn't always agree anyway]] on what it means:
--> "Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has so often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions, which are always straining after higher forms of expression, and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fixed goal." — Rudolf Rocker, [[http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Rudolf_Rocker__Anarchosyndicalism.html Anarcho-Syndicalism]], 1938.
** To be even more precise, 'anarchy' comes from 'an-' (not) and 'arche' (higher/highest), meaning a form of social organization, with no one standing above anyone else. It is a regime without a ruler, but not without rules. A direct democracy, where every conflict is solved by a common voting by people who have equal vote (or a common consensus) is an example of anarchy.
* '''Anorexia''' is often used as a term for a serious eating disorder that causes strong aversion to food, which can lead to severe (or even ''fatal'') malnutrition if left untreated. On its own, though, "anorexia" just means "loss of appetite", and it's generally a ''symptom'' of disease rather than a disease in itself. The eating disorder is formally known as ''"Anorexia nervosa"'', but it's often called "anorexia" for short.
* '''Artificial Intelligence''' is, as its name implies, a machine that acts as if it's intelligent: ask most computer scientists and they'll tell you that one big important factor in determining whether a machine can be called an AI is whether it's capable of learning (specifically, being able to change and adapt its strategies when it receives new information). However, outside of computer technology and especially when it comes to games AI has simply come to mean "the computer", which can irk computer scientists as the computer isn't "intelligent" but just following a giant list of "''if X, then do Y''" instructions.
* '''Asian''' is a term denoting an origin in the continent of Asia, ranging from most of the Middle East to the Orient. In British usage, it is a common term used to denote a South Asian origin (ex. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), and the term Oriental is used to denote an East Asian origin. In Australian and American usage, it refers to the Far East (ex. China, Japan, Thailand, Vietman and Korea), and the term Oriental is offensive in North America. '''Oriental''' traditionally referred to the countries east of the Middle East, meaning such places as Turkey and India. In fact, the Orient Express only went as far as Istanbul in its heyday.
** And essentially no one considers Russians to be Asian even though 77% of Russia falls within the continent of Asia (to be fair, though, despite the majority of Russia being in Asia, the majority of ''Russians'' live in Europe).
* Before being adopted by 19th-century European and American "racial scientists" and subsquently Nazis and white supremacists, '''Aryan''' was originally the term of choice for Indo-Iranian peoples because they called themselves ''Arya''. Whatever Arya originally meant, it was more of socio-linguistic designation than an ethnic one. Some of them may have had blond hair, but the majority probably didn't. By this definition, then, the descendants of the Aryans can be found in countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran[[note]]Should be pretty obvious since Iran literally means, "Land of the Aryans."[[/note]], Tajikistan and Bangladesh. (In India, ''Aryan'' is opposed to ''Dravidian''.)
** The word itself means something akin to "well formed", from a root ''*ar-'' (which survives in the Greek ''aristos'', "best", and English ''art'', amongst others). As applied to the people themselves and their language, it probably carries the meaning "skillfully assembled, rightly proportioned, obeying the right customs" or similar, with the feeling of "one of us" (its precise opposite, ''anarya'', is frequently used to mean "wrong" or "other"). This, along with its status as the earliest attested Indo-European autonym, is one of the reasons it was adopted by white supremacists to label their racial ideal. It's more than likely that none of them had blond hair (this was considered a marker of specifically "Germanic" rather than Aryan heritage), because their origins were likely as nomads on the Pontic-Caspian steppe, where blond hair is rare.
** The Aryan Dravidian divide of India was deliberately created by Christian invaders as one of many efforts to prevent the areas they occupied from becoming [[DivideAndConquer too unified against them]]. Unique culture and language did develop in the Dravida region, obviously, but prior to colonization they were still accepted as Aryan. As the occupying powers were expelled an ongoing effort to reestablish the whole of India being Aryan began, taken up by Mahatma Gandhi no less, but success has been limited.
** Speaking of Aryans, the Nazis had a very, ah, ''unusual'' (read: arbitrary) definition of Aryan. They could never really decide if "Aryan" meant Indo-European, White European, Nordic/Germanic European, Non-Jewish European, and/or Non-Slavic European. They also classified a number of people as Aryan which even modern white supremacists would find a little puzzling. Many Germans liked Creator/KarlMay novels, so the Sioux became Aryans. For political convenience, the Japanese were Aryans. Nazi mythology placed the Aryan homeland in Tibet due to connection with Theosophy, so Tibetans were Aryans, too, even though the Tibetans are more closely related to the Burmese and Chinese than anyone else. Perhaps most bizarrely of all, the Nazis decided that their allies the Croats were Aryans whereas the ethnically identical Serbs were Slavic ''Untermenschen.''
* '''Censorship''' refers to a higher power, such as the government or a corporation, suppressing speech, or other forms of information, on the grounds that such material is harmful or offensive. Over time the phrase has been confused with the First Amendment (which doesn't even contain the ''word'' censorship), and it is now not uncommon to hear people say that censorship ''only'' refers to government censorship, as that is the only form of censorship the First Amendment protects you from.
* '''Depreciate''' means "to decrease in value." The extremely similar '''depre''cate''''' means "to become obsolete." Something can be depreciated without being deprecated, but not vice versa. Both words can mean "to belittle" or "to disparage", which really just adds to the confusion.
* '''Gay''' originally meant something closer to "carefree, with undertones of being unrestricted by social conventions". Later on, it was used to describe [[ReallyGetsAround sexually active women]], who were most definitely of the kind referred to as 'straight' today. It now describes homosexuals and is technically gender-neutral but mostly used for men. To top it off, it's seen heavy use as an insult lately.
** Some people that use Gay as an insult and are called out on it attempt to weasel out of the mess by saying they were using the [[HaveAGayOldTime "happy"]] version of the word.
* '''Gene''' is often used to mean "allele". An allele is one of multiple forms a gene assumes. For example, there is no human gene for brown hair; there's a gene for hair color in general, and one of its alleles results in brown hair. A valuable distinction for biologists, but not one that most people care about when they're at the movies.
* To draw from a [[Literature/TheBible Biblical]] parable, a '''Good Samaritan''' is someone who helps even those that persecute him. In Biblical times the Samaritans were an ethno-religious group that was shunned heavily by the Jewish people. This was the entire purpose of the parable: a Samaritan saved the life of a dying Jew, thereby proving that goodness is not constrained by ethnic, cultural, or religious boundaries; even people you hate can do good, and you should still do good even for people who hate you. However, due to a lack of context, many people simply assume "Good Samaritan" to mean any person who does good deeds for any reason. Even worse, some people drop the "good" and just use "Samaritan" to refer to any good person, even though it originally meant the opposite. To put it in a more nerdy way: the Comicbook/XMen, who fight to protect humanity even though humans despise them, are Good Samaritans. {{Superman}}, however, is ''not'' a Good Samaritan because he rarely if ever faces public persecution.
** Furthermore, considering the ethnic/religious group known as the Samaritans still exists, calling someone a "Samaritan" is the same thing as saying that they are a part of this group. Calling someone a "Good Samaritan" could be considered the same as calling someone a "[[YouAreACreditToYourRace Good Jew]]" or even a "[[UnfortunateImplications Good African]]." Not necessarily an insult, per se, but still very likely to offend some people.
* '''"I could care less"''' is incorrect according to the literal meaning of the words. The phrase you're looking for is '''"I couldn't care less"'''; by saying that you ''could'' care less, you're saying that you ''do'' care.
* A '''Libertarian''' and '''Libertarianism''' has been a synonym/euphemism for "Anarchism" as far back as the 1890s. Libertarian Athenaeums gave thousands of people access to basic education--including pioneering sexual education--and Libertarian Unions stood against the State and the Capitalist establishment. All this hasn't stopped the U.S. right-wing "libertarian" movement--which started in the late 1950s and is a staunch proponent of Capitalism--from claiming exclusive rights to both terms. While in a vacuum libertarianism shares most of the anarchist values, such as personal freedom with no state intervention, within mainstream politics libertarians normally are saying they want those things, but only as far as is reasonable within the current political system. They aren't incorrect to say that they are 'supporting liberty', but they don't want to tear down the democracy for it either. In essence, any political term that is used in the modern political mainstream needs to come with the rider 'but without wrecking democracy'. It would probably be more correct to call such people 'Democratic Libertarians', as they support the democratic system and individual liberty, but since they are a part of the democratic system it pretty much comes as read that they are OK with democratic politics.
* The phrase '''mano a mano''' is widely, but incorrectly, used to mean one-on-one (usually in the context of a fight or contest) - "man to man." This likely stems from "mano" being a [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_friend false friend]] for the English word "man." However, "mano" is actually Spanish for "hand." The phrase means "hand to hand," such as fighting in close quarters, and has nothing to do with the number of parties involved or the genders thereof.
* '''Melee''' means a confusing, chaotic hand-to-hand fight (possibly free-for-all — the word literally means "mixed", implying that the two sides fighting one another are mixed amongst themselves). In most VideoGames however, it seems to be applied in a way that just means 'close-quarters range/fight'. If you're playing some sort of strategy game in which fights of a one-on-one nature are rare if they ever happen, the word may have a reasonable context. In other games, probably not.
** Most video games just flat out refer to 'melee' weapons as the opposite of 'ranged' weapons and 'melee' itself as the opposite of 'casting spells' and/or 'shooting firearms'. In other words, in modern gaming parlance, the word 'melee' just means 'hand to hand'.
* '''Prodigal''' means "wasteful", not "wandering" or "long-lost". The Prodigal Son was the one who squandered his money; the wandering-and-returning happened in the process of his doing so. However, because of this parable, the word is very frequently understood to mean "lost".
** Alternately, some people use prodigal to mean that someone is bad family. Again, while the prodigal son could be considered to have been a bad son and a bad brother, that is still not the meaning of the term.
** Some people also use prodigal as an adjective form for the word "prodigy." While this is a bit understandable, as the two words do look similar, it is very wrong as the two words have nearly opposite meanings. For the record, the actual adjective form of prodigy is "prodigious."
* '''Race''', '''species''', '''phylum''', and basically everything else from TaxonomicTermConfusion. Using "race" when you mean "species" is often forgivable in fantasy settings; even in RealLife, we have expressions like "the human race." Using "phylum" when you mean "taxon" is worse.
** Doubly so on the fantasy setting point, as while "species" is fairly well defined in terms of viable reproduction, and while individual races, families, orders, classes, phyla and kingdoms are well defined in terms of particular phenotypical characteristics, there is no clear abstract definition (unlike for species) of when you should consider some novel set of similar creatures to constitute a new phylum (as opposed to a new class), meaning that the terms have little clear meaning outside an Earth biology context. If you say two distantly related alien species are part of the same phylum and I say they are merely part of the same kingdom, there is no principled way to resolve the dispute.
** Historically, the word "race" has been used to mean anything from all humanity to a single family line. In ''Literature/TheLuckOfBarryLyndon'', the title character at one point laments that it was not destined that he should leave any of "my race" on Earth after his death -- meaning, not humans, nor white people, nor Irish people, but people of the Barry family. On Wikipedia, one old map depicts "Races of the Austro-Hungarian Empire" -- meaning, nationalities, or ethnocultural groups with a common language -- Germans, Hungarians, Ukrainians, etc.; all of them would have been more or less the same colour. Before the mid-twentieth century, "race" could be applied to any group of living things that perpetuated itself. In the 18th century, people wrote of the "race of labourers" and the "race of tailors". That's why whenever we see a pre-1940 use of the word "race," we mustn't simply assume that it refers to skin color. When people of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries spoke of "racial purity" or "racial improvement," they could have simply meant advances in medical technology for a particular country's citizens. In particular, the full title of UsefulNotes/CharlesDarwin's opus is "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". The "Favoured Races" here pretty much means species, not the kind of "Favoured Races" Hitler was talking about.
** In modern times, a "race" is any group of people identified by specific physical traits that are deemed socially significant (as opposed to "ethnicity," which goes by cultural traits). With this in mind, race is a cultural construct, a judgment that the observer places on the observed, and not something with any basis in any somatic or genetic interpretation. Any attempts to create a taxonomy for race on the basis of physical appearance fails pretty quickly; after all, how black does one need to be "African," bearing in mind people of similar skin tones live on different continents. Are Indians Asian, with their dark skin and western facial features? The more specific the classification, the more members of that "race" are excluded; the fewer used, the more inaccurate such classifications get.
* '''Regime''' or '''[[GratuitousFrench Régime]]''' simply refers to ''any'' state government: the United States (a representative democratic republic) and North Korea (an odd mix of a ''de facto'' absolute monarchy, a totalitarian police state, and a pharaonic cult) are both regimes. In general usage, it is now mostly used to refer only to tyrannical, authoritarian, or repressive governments; political scholars have other definitions. In political theory it continues to mean "any form of government", and in international relations, it has come to mean "any political order of any kind, even if it isn't the government of a state" (e.g. "arms-control regime",[[note]]so the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and other treaties together form the "global arms-control regime"[[/note]] "river-management regime",[[note]]e.g. the various interrelated international agencies designed to manage the Danube from various angles: trade, environment, water supply, tourism...[[/note]] "regional security regime",[[note]]For instance, UsefulNotes/{{NATO}} and the various bilateral and multilateral security arrangements between the US, Canada, and the countries of Western Europe together make the North Atlantic/Western European regional security regime[[/note]] etc.)--this latter use of "regime" is the focus of "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regime_theory regime theory]]," one of the more important movements in international relations since the late 1990s.
* '''Siege''' is often used in media to mean simply "we're being attacked/invaded." To be under siege is to be surrounded by troops, and cut off from supplies so as to slowly starve until surrender. Unless the person is being surrounded or cut off from supplies, this doesn't really work.
* '''UFO''' stands for Unidentified Flying Object, meaning that there's something moving in the sky, but you're not sure what it is. If it's obvious that said object is an extraterrestrial spacecraft, then it has been identified and no longer qualifies as a UFO. The Literature/BastardOperatorFromHell lampshaded this one when it was pointed out that there was an "extortionate penalty payment for remaining at work after a UFO sighting in the vicinity of the building" written into his contract, which he later invokes by asking "is that a 747-200F or a 747-200C?".
** Though, if you think about it, [[MindScrew even calling something a UFO can be considered a form of identification, therefore nothing can be technically considered a UFO]].


* '''Lame''' (unable to walk) and '''dumb''' (unable to speak) went from their respective meanings to both being synonyms for "stupid" thanks to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism_treadmill#Euphemism_treadmill euphemism treadmill]]. Words denoting negatively perceived characteristics naturally become used as insults. '''Idiot''' (having an IQ of 0 to 20), '''imbecile''' (having an IQ of 21 to 50), '''moron''' (having an IQ of 51 to 70), and '''cretin''' (someone who suffers from cretinism, i.e. severe mental and physical disabilities caused by congenital hypothyroidism) were medical terms in the early 20th century, and "LD" for "learning disability" is already being used as a playground insult, as is "ADHD" or "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder".
** The word '''stupid''' itself even qualifies. Originally it meant "in a stupor", so calling somebody stupid didn't mean they were unintelligent, but rather unresponsive or comatose.
** "Dumb" as stupid and "dumb" as mute both come from "dumb" defined as "lacking an expected property", which is the etymology of "dummy". The OED suggests the Proto-Germanic meaning to be something like 'stupid', 'not understanding' (compare Modern German ''dumm'', ''tumb'').
** '''Retarded''' technically means to be hindered or slowed down (hence its use in the term "retard bomb" which simply means that it falls slower than usual), but used to mean that someone has a mental disability and is unable to learn at a normal rate. Recently, it turned into a synonym for stupid. Unlike the others, it is still seen as offensive, while it would take someone ''very'' touchy to get annoyed at "lame" or "stupid".[[note]]Unless you are actually disabled or are close with people who are -- in which case, you might very well be annoyed with the use of "lame" as a pejorative.[[/note]] The word is still considered a valid medical term and used in medical textbooks, although generally with an appended note warning prospective nurses and doctors to never use it within earshot of their patients and families.
*** Also, the only thing that can be retarded in this context is a human being, because 'retarded' is an abbreviation of 'retarded in mental development'. There is no such thing as 'retarded joke' or 'retarded behavior' (unless 'retarded' is used as synonym of 'delayed', as in the bomb example above).
* '''Cretin''': The most common derivation provided in English dictionaries is from the Alpine French dialect pronunciation of the word Chrétien, meaning Christian. Another misconception is that 'cretin' originally referred to the mainland Greeks' supposed low opinion of the inhabitants of Crete island. This is false: first, there is no mention of any persistent common prejudice directed to people from Crete from other Greeks, and second, in Greek, people from Crete are called 'Kretikoi', which would be transliterated to 'Cretics', not Cretans or Cretins.
* The word '''child''' has different meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. Biologically, a child is a human who has not attained puberty. Legally, "child" may used in different ways depending on the purpose in question (such as immigration law or the age of consent), but generally refers to an individual under the age of majority - this is generally 18 (as per the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child), but ranges internationally from 15 to 21. "Child" also refers to the offspring of someone, regardless of what age they are.
** The related term '''adolescent''' refers to a human who has reached puberty but has not reached full growth or another developmental cutoff point. What constitutes the end of adolescence varies depending on the purpose. Legally, adolescence ends at the age of majority, whereas medically and psychologically definitions often extend it well into ones twenties.
*** The term '''teenager''' or '''teen''' refers to humans aged 13-19, but is often used as a synonym for "adolescent".
** '''Youth''' is another imprecise term for the period of life where one is young or for young people in general. It often refers to the period of life encompassing childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. It may also be used to refer exclusively to adolescents under the age of majority.
** A '''baby''' (or an '''infant''') is a very young child (generally under age 1) who has yet to learn how to walk. In common use, "baby" is often used as an affectionate term for one's lover. It may also be used to refer to miniature versions of objects, for example "baby carrots", "baby piano" or "baby corn".
* '''Critic''', incidentally, is unrelated to either; its root is the same as that of ''crisis'' and ''crime'', among others: a verb meaning to distinguish between one thing and another. (A crisis is the moment of decision between two outcomes; criminal law distinguishes between what is and is not tolerated; a critic points out distinctions between good and bad art.) For this you tend to use ''criteria'' (which is the plural of ''criterion'').
* '''To beg the question''' is to [[LogicalFallacies commit a logical fallacy]] in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises (e.g. "Of course I had a reason for doing it -- otherwise, I wouldn't have done it!"). The phrase, however, is frequently used with the meaning "to ''raise'' the question" (e.g. "If you didn't put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder, it begs the question of who did."). The Latin name for it is ''petitio principii'', literally, "assuming the initial point", they should have just ''called'' it "assuming the point" rather than "begging the question" for the fallacy's relation to circular reasoning. In general it implies something like "to request that one's opponent concede the initial point".
* '''Moral equivalent''': often, this phrase is used in the context of considering the metaphorical "scales" of ethics to be balanced: neither is more good (or bad) than the other. This is based on a misunderstanding (almost an inversion) of the intended meaning. William James wrote of "...war, or its moral equivalent." James meant that in modern societies war serves a purpose; the "moral equivalent" would be something which provides a similar function, but (unlike war) is ''not immoral''.
* Piloted HumongousMecha are typically called '''Giant Robots''' despite the textbook definition of robot being "an ''autonomous'' device".
** This goes for smaller ones too, like the machines in ''Series/{{Battlebots}}'' and ''Series/RobotWars'' being remote-controlled rather than autonomous.
* Some tropers have described the male counterpart to an AlwaysFemale trope as a DistaffCounterpart. '''[[DistaffCounterpart Distaff]]''', however, means specifically "female", not simply "gender-switched". This is derived from the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distaff distaff]], a tool used in the traditionally-feminine job of spinning, as well as the inspiration for the female symbol (♀). The male equivalent would be the "SpearCounterpart".[[note]]And yes, the (shield and) spear ''is'' the inspiration for the male symbol (♂).[[/note]]
* '''[[UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}} Bar mitzvah]]''' literally translates to "son of the commandment," i.e. "one to whom the commandments apply", and so it is something that boys ''become''. Therefore you technically do not "have a bar mitzvah", you have a celebration to commemorate becoming a bar mitzvah (similar to the technical definition of "bachelor party"). And as any Jewish parent will tell you, planning one of these parties is like planning a wedding.
** In addition, the plural, unisex way to say ''bat mitzvah'' or ''bar mitzvah'' is ''b'nai mitzvah'' (or ''b'nei mitzvah''); however, because this is both ''plural'' and ''non-gender'', '''no one''' "becomes" a b'nai mitzvah. You can ''go'' to one, as in, "I'm going to my cousins' b'nai mitzvah."
** Also, a bar mitzvah is not when a Jewish boy is circumcised; that is on the eighth day, a bris mila (or b'rit mila, in non-Ashkenazi dialects). The confusion comes from the fact that in Africa, boys are typically circumcised at a much older age. And the word meaning "circumcision" is "mila", not "bris" (which simply means "covenant").
* '''Penultimate''' means "next to last," but is sometimes incorrectly used to simply mean "last". '''Antepenultimate''' means "''next to'' next to last," (or more simply, third to last), but is seldom used these days. The original word for last was '''ultimate''' (''paene'' means "almost": compare to "peninsula" from ''paene'' and ''insula''--that is, island--thus "almost an island"); however, all but the [[IncrediblyLamePun ultimate]] pedants have given up on convincing people that it means anything other than 'maximum'. Students of Latin are taught about the ultima, penult, and antepenult when it comes to placing the stress on the correct syllable of a word -- but then again, students of Latin probably don't need "penultimate" explained to them. And many people seem to also be under the impression that "penultimate" means something along the lines of "even more ultimate", which doesn't even make sense.
* '''Hysteric(al)''' reactions may be funny to onlookers, but its original meaning is not "funny." "Hysterical" was originally used to describe a woman suffering from "hysteria", a psychological state of excessive emotion, especially fear, originally believed to be exclusive to women and caused by disruptions of the uterus (the term literally translates as "womb-fury"). Specifically, the ancient Greeks [[ScienceMarchesOn believed that the uterus could somehow travel around the body and attack the other organs]], presumably for no reason other than to make trouble for the men who would have to put up with the results. The word itself derives from the Greek word for uterus, from which we also get "hysterectomy". It was often treated by [[UnusualEuphemism "pubic massage"]] -- yes, that's what vibrators were invented for. They were used by doctors to induce a "hysterical paroxysm" i.e. orgasm, and the numerous euphemisms permitted the entire thing to be discussed by medical professionals back in Victorian times, as not only was it improper to discuss sexuality, it was thought females didn't even have any.
** As late as the 1940s, hysteria was commonly used to mean, roughly, [[OlderThanTheyThink PMS]]. As late as the 1970's, reprinted house and garden handbooks from the 1940s included '''home remedies for hysteria'''.
* The word '''work''' (as a noun) has many meanings in common usage, including something taking effort to produce, some form of artistic production or a job. However, in physics, 'work' means the amount of energy transferred by a force moving an object. This definition is much less known, and much less used.
** Specifically, work is the force required to move something, integrated over the distance moved. These are very useful units for the engineering of devices, since they are to a degree independent of time and time is possibly the most annoying unit to deal with in design terms (it turns things into dynamic problems). As is probably obvious, expressing energy expenditure without referencing how long it takes to expend the energy isn't really that useful for common usage.
* The distinction between '''amount''' and '''quantity''' (or '''number''') is often ignored. You have an amount of a mass noun such as water or money, and a quantity of a countable noun such as dollars or shoes. The distinction between "less" and "fewer" is related to this; you'd say "less money" but "fewer shoes", which is why the sign at the supermarket aisle ought to read, "Twelve items or fewer," not "Twelve items or less".
** If the supermarket really wanted to flout (not flaunt) the rules (although they'd probably be flaunting them in their heads), it could remove all doubt by saying "Twelve or less items". "Twelve items or less" leaves just enough room for them to wriggle out: the hanging "less" doesn't actually state less what, even though it's heavily implied they mean items.
* You may have a '''family crest''', if you can trace your family tree back to European gentry. But the ''crest'' is only the bit that stands on top of the ''helm'' (like the crest of a jaybird). In most European traditions the essential element is the shield, or ''escutcheon'' (in Germany, at some times, the crest(s) got much more emphasis than the shield; but in Romance-speaking countries crests were relatively rarely displayed at all). The full ''achievement'' may also include a motto and, for a noble, ''supporters'' (a pair of human, animal or monstrous figures standing beside the shield to prop it all up) and perhaps a coronet and ''pavilion'' (a fur-lined robe forming a tent around the whole). The original meaning of ''coat of arms'' was a tunic worn over armor to keep the sun off, which was painted in the same design as the shield, so the word ''coat'' is used for that design or, in the case of a composite shield, each of its ''quarters''.
** Some popular references claim that each ''charge'' (symbol) and ''tincture'' (color) has a specific meaning; and some crackpots say the same for each vowel and consonant in a language. The only thing we can be sure of is that arms often make puns (sometimes obscure) on part of the bearer's name. [[note]]This is called "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canting_arms canting arms]]" and can be seen (for instance) in the arms of the Spanish region of Castile and León (Castile gets a castle, León gets a lion); the arms of [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfWindsor the Queen Mum]] (containing bows and lions, for her maiden name, "Bowes-Lyon"); and the arms of Munich (whose name comes from the Old High German for "by the monks' place" and sure enough the arms depict a monk).[[/note]]
** In Japan, ''crest'' is a fair translation of ''mon'' because the primary emblem '''was''' displayed on helmets as well as elsewhere.
* While '''lay''' is the actual past tense of '''lie''', the former verb is often incorrectly used in place of the latter.
** And the past tense of "lay" is "laid", not "layed". Just as in "getting laid". (The passive participle, in the nonsexy sense, is ''lain''.)
** And if you're going to use the transitive 'lay' (to put down something long or flat in a certain careful manner) reflexively, use a reflexive pronoun or it's wrong. "Go lay down" is bad; "Go lay yourself down" is fine, although its connotations are slightly different from those of "Go lie down".
* The terms '''Internet''' and '''World Wide Web''' are often used interchangeably. The ''Internet'' is the network itself, over which all network protocols operate; the ''Web'' is just one of its applications, the set of servers that use Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). If you open an instant messaging program or go play an online game, you're using the Internet but not the Web. This has become pedantic in that often the word ''Internet'' is used in place of ''Web'' -- correctly, since a website is necessarily on the Internet. It's much more noticeable when switched around: if someone says ''Web'' or ''World Wide Web'' in reference to anything other than a website, you can expect anyone who understands this distinction to be all over it.
* '''Human''': This is a tough one because, here on Real Earth, several possible definitions all collapse to the same group. The term is widely taken to refer specifically to ''Homo sapiens sapiens'', i.e. "us". However, among the accepted dictionary definitions include any member of the species ''Homo sapiens'', which would also include the now-extinct archaic varies of ''H. sapiens'', such as Neanderthals and ''Homo sapiens idaltu''. Others include the entire genus ''Homo'', picking up more of our ancestors, or even any member of Hominidae capable of speech. Whether species outside our branch of the genetic tree (i.e. sapient aliens, robots, magical beings, future species descended from H. sapiens sapiens, etc.) could be properly called "human" is ''entirely up for debate'': as it hasn't come up yet in the real world, neither linguists nor lawyers have made a canonical decision. As a result, many phrases and idioms use the term "human" in a way that will be incorrect if a decision in one direction or the other is ever made ("Human rights" vs "Human anatomy" for example). '''Person''', particularly in the legal sense, is even more ambiguous.
** The philosophical definition of "man" is "rational (i.e. ''sapient''; see above) animal." This is the way it is used in any context outside of scientifically-rigorous biology. In the genre of space opera, where there are sapient extraterrestrial species that communicate with the humans, the proper term to refer to us would be "Terrans," since [[Franchise/StarTrek Klingons]] / [[Franchise/MassEffect Turians]] / [[Manga/OutlawStar Ctarl-Ctarl]] / etc. are all "man." Occasionally, a slightly different distinction is made, with 'human' referring to only our species, and other sapient lifeforms referred to as a 'person' but not 'human'.
* '''Controversial''' should not be used to describe people, things, or ideas that are merely "shocking" or "in bad taste". The word literally means "likely to provoke dissent" (i.e. '''controversy''') -- and that dissent need not be bitter. That's why "controversial" does not always have to be a "negative" word, even though that's how it tends to be used. Since almost everyone disapproves of child pornography, for example, child pornography is not "controversial". You should use terms such as "scandalous" or "outrageous" instead. (But don't use "uproarious", because that term has incorrectly come to mean "extremely funny.")
* '''Archaic''' does not simply mean old or outdated. It describes a word from an older language being used in a modern language in a specific sense, or something so old as to no longer be in use (for example, steam engine cars are archaic).
* A '''manger''' is a feed trough. The little display with UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} and Mary and Joseph in the stable can be called a "manger ''scene''": there's generally a manger in it, but the whole thing isn't one.
* '''Fundamentalist''': Denotes somebody who puts a particular emphasis on the basic tenets of a doctrine as opposed to ideologies that might have a basis in that doctrine but are willing to question some basic tenets. It's really more a statement against revisionism than a statement for tradition and bigotry, it just usually ends up that way. A fundamentalist is, strictly speaking, somebody who emphasizes the fundamentals of an ideology, so it's not hard to see how this purist approach could lend itself to extremism.
** Similarly, '''evangelical''', in terms like "evangelical doctrine", just means "practicing evangelism". By that definition, many churches are evangelical, even if they don't consider themselves so and don't have the traits that most people consider "evangelical". Unfortunately this word has lost most of its usefulness by coming to mean the kind of church that still condemns dancing, throws fits about interracial marriage, and steadfastly maintains that the world was created in 7 days 6,000 years ago. (And in case you forgot what evangelism is, it means an emphasis on conversion and recruitment, literally to "spread the good news." In this way, even Hindus and Muslims could technically be evangelical, they just wouldn't use this word.) "Evangelical" also shouldn't be assumed to imply "politically conservative"; most evangelicals were on the political ''left'' until the 20th century, and some still are.
** Also, '''radical''' means "pertaining to the root" (from ''radix'', the Latin word for "root"), not "extreme". Radical movements seek to make radical (i.e. fundamental) changes in basic social structures, or they attempt a return to the "root" of a movement which they feel has diverged from its original purpose. Of course, radical movements are often prone to extremism.
* '''{{Tsundere}}''' originally was a term created on the Internet to designate a character's personality change over time, usually catalyzed by a love interest. However, the term has been expanded to cover characters that have two distinct personality modes, harsh and sweet, whether or not the character actually changes as the story progresses.
** '''{{Yandere}}''', when used to describe males, is often used to describe ''any'' abusive BastardBoyfriend. It originally referred specifically to an obsessive love. [[Franchise/StarWars Anakin Skywalker]] is a yandere for his obsession with trying to save Padmé, ''not'' because he chokes her while DrunkOnTheDarkSide. It's also misused on females to imply a KnifeNut or crazy-murderous girls in general, even if love isn't part of the equation (Such as [[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya Asakura Ryouko]]). Meanwhile, cute, innocent, AxCrazy women (and sometimes men) are CuteAndPsycho, since that does not require an object of affection to be yan over.
** '''{{Kuudere}}''' is often thought to mean "EmotionlessGirl". It's actually more of a "cool" approach to the {{tsundere}} character type. (That is, they may ''appear'' to be emotionless, until one gets to know them)
* A '''[[ConvenientMiscarriage miscarriage]]''' is an early term '''[[GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion abortion]]'''. Both are medical terms for the termination of pregnancy and don't reflect any intent.
** Popularly, a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion (unintentional), while abortion is a medical procedure performed for the sole purpose of terminating a pregnancy (intentional).
* '''Contemporary''' means ''of the same time''. To use it without a temporal context is to invite the question, "contemporary with what?" If you use it as a synonym for ''modern'', well -- at least please be very careful that no other time, such as the lifetime of J. S. Bach, is mentioned or implied nearby.
** It would be safer to use "present" or "current" if you want to be YouKeepUsingThatWord/VeryPedantic. Technically, J. S. Bach's lifetime happened in the modern period too.
** An exception is with the term 'Contemporary History' which is a defined period between 1945 and the present day.
* Regarding the word '''{{fetish}}''', most people use it in the way it's defined on [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fetish dictionary.com]] as well as in a few other dictionaries. That is, it's something normally unassociated with sex that that causes "habitual sexual arousal" in the observer and isn't something the fetishist necessarily has to have in order to become aroused. On the other hand, other dictionaries, such as [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fetish?show=0&t=1294374243 Merriam Webster]], explicitly state that it's something that needs to be present in order to arouse the fetishist. Those that use this definition argue that most people who claim to have a fetish actually have a [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kink kink]] instead, as it's rare for it to be that extreme. All of of this, of course, necessarily postdates the '''original''' use of the word; i.e., an idol or other artifact to which is ascribed supernatural qualities.
** To say that you have a "Native American bear fetish" probably does not mean that you experience sexual arousal at the thought of bears belonging to tribes inhabiting the Americas before Europeans arrived (or that you can only be sexually aroused by [[TheBear a large, hairy, bearded gay man]] descended from one of said tribes). More likely, you have a carving or other artwork done by Native Americans to worship a mystic bear figure. [[NightmareFuel Most likely]].
* Using the word '''[[AbsurdlySpaciousSewer sewer]]''' for storm drainage systems. Sewers carry sewage, everything that goes down the toilet, sink, dishwashing machine and bath or shower. Storm drains carry water that washes up on the street. The two are not the same, even though many writers of fiction and video game designers confuse the two. And even Wiki/TheOtherWiki lists another name for a storm drain in the US as "storm sewer". However, in the UK (or at least in England and Wales) 'sewer' denotes a public drain/channel rather than a private one. It can carry foul water or storm water, or both. This is a statutory definition.
** On the contrary, this use as only for waste water is inaccurate to its original use as "conduit" from the Anglo-French word "sewere."
* To be '''electrocuted''' or to suffer '''electrocution''' is to be outright ''killed'' by an electric shock, not to simply receive one; indeed, the word was coined by Thomas Edison as a portmanteau of "electric" and "execute", after "to westinghouse" failed to catch on (a TakeThat against his AC-inventing rival). But because of the confusion the phrase "electrocuted to death" could be used if you want to emphasize that yes, the person died.
** Similarly, "execute" does not mean to kill but to carry out; The executive branch executes the laws. It also executes capital (death) sentences. Its use to refer to capital punishment is basically a SesquipedalianLoquaciousness version of organized crime using "do" as a euphemism for killing.
* A '''dropkick''' is either kicking someone with both feet at the same time, or dropping a ball and kicking it after it bounces, depending on whether you're talking about professional wrestling or football. It doesn't mean just any kick that makes someone fall down.
** Or, in martial arts, an inverted side kick. (Sometimes also an axe-kick.)
* '''Scrum''' is derived from the words scrimmage or skirmish which mean something to the general effect of "disorganized fighting". In Rugby a scrum is one of the most organized things that can happen during play. The eight (in Rugby Union: six in Rugby League) forwards from each team bind against each other in an extremely organized fashion and perform a sort of reverse tug of war to contest the possession of the ball. The formation is very organized and players deviating from their position within the scrum will result in penalties. One of the most common things a non-rugby sports commentator likes to say is "that's an old fashioned rugby scrum!" when a play turns into chaos and the players pile up on top of each other. The funny thing is, if they took out "rugby" they'd be accurate as the rugby definition of a scrum deviates from the standard "skirmish" route. It's kind of a double subversion.
* '''Apocryphal''' means "of uncertain truth." Something cannot be "probably apocryphal" unless you're admitting you yourself didn't check the facts on its general acceptance; the word implies ''uncertainty'', albeit sufficient uncertainty to reject it as historical fact, but not falsehood per se. One or two contemporary accounts or products could (and very often have) rocket most "apocryphal" events into widespread acceptance.
* The word '''chef''' is widely used to refer to any cook regardless of rank, but it is the shortened version of the French term ''chef de cuisine'', the head or director of a kitchen. The word "chef" comes from the Latin word ''caput'' ("head"), so "head chef" really means "head head" (though, if we want to be true pedants, one might argue the "head" in "head chef" means "top" or "most important" metaphorically). Only the highest ranking cook in the whole kitchen is ''the'' chef.
** This is because most cooks in a professional kitchen are either the ''Sous-Chef'' (second in command, literally Under-Chef), a ''Chef de Partie'' (head of station, or line cook) or assist the Chef de Partie as a ''Commis-Chef'' (literally chef-clerk). Since nearly every position has the word chef in it, it's no wonder it got shortened. \\\
To give an example, Spongebob is both a Fry Chef (as he heads up the frying station) and the Chef de Cuisine (by default). In the episode where Patrick assisted him, Patrick would have been his Commis-Chef (and also Sous Chef by default).
* '''Longswords''' are not '''arming swords''', and '''broadsword''' is not a synonym for either. The typical arming sword have long since been called longswords or broadswords in tabletop games, video games, books, films, and so many other forms of media, but in actuality you could not find bigger differences between the two. A longsword has more in common with a hand-and-a-half bastard sword except longer, having gotten the name due to their length. A broadsword, likewise, is descended from a rapier and boasts the same type of intricate hilt and handle, but with a much broader blade. Worse, now they're starting to become the "normal" term, as people are generally far more familiar with the term of "longsword" or "broadsword" than "arming sword".
* '''[[PlayfulHacker Hackers]]''', as in "those who '''hack'''", is a term for relatively skillful programmers (generally; certain non-programmers may also qualify) who find ways to use hardware or software for things it was not originally intended for (which may or may not be illegal), and who often see themselves as doing a public service by bringing security flaws to public attention. Hackers find offensive the popular use of the term "hacker" in reference to warez groups or malicious intruders, and prefer the word "[[TheCracker cracker]]" for such. The fact remains though, that both terms are essentially arbitrary labels - it's not as though "hacking" means something nicer than "cracking"- and to the vast majority of people hackers means crackers.
** Despite the opinions of the hobbyists and proponents of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_%28programmer_subculture%29 Hacker Culture]], a given dictionary definition of "Hacker" is one who "attempts to gain unauthorized access to proprietary computer systems" (though that does not necessarily imply malice).
** Note that the original meaning above is still in use in certain cases. One notable use is kernel hacking, as this requires a high degree of programming skill and many members of this group consider themselves to be hackers.
** Hacker is also heavily used in video game culture to define someone that cheats. Very rarely do online video game cheaters use any actual hack. Most people that cheat in games use 3rd party programs that simply alters the game's coding. Hacker is also used to insult other players that are suspected of cheating, even if the accused are not cheating.
** "Hacking" is also used to refer to any form of control of someone's logged-in account or outright gaining access to someone's username and password. Apparently, using someone's computer while they're using the bathroom and firing up their browser to post things under their Website/{{Facebook}} account that is already logged in constitutes hacking.
*** Admittedly a lot of hacking that's actually led to ''charges'' involved similarly mundane things—or calling people up and claiming to be a customer who'd forgotten their password.
* '''Beta''' is often used to refer to a video game in any development stage before it's released. It's actually the "feature complete" stage, just when it's about to be ready for release. It is tested by a (usually) limited audience outside the programming team to find bugs and improve usability. It is not equivalent to a video game only being part way finished. Alpha testing is (as the name suggests) the testing of the unfinished software by the development team prior to the beta release. Gamma or Release Candidate refers software that is finished and ready for official release, barring any major bugs.
* '''Manipulation''' is not inherently insidious. It means "to influence, direct, or control something to one's advantage", which need not be negative or even self-centered, just that it produces a net benefit to you. Dextrous manipulation, for instance, means to use your hands to make an object do what you want it to do. But one way of using the simplified meaning is for categorical opponents of genetic research to insist on referring to the practice as "genetic manipulation" to make it sound desirably sinister.
** Similarly, as {{Narm}}y as it probably sounds to fans of ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', "data manipulation" refers in the real world to [[ArtisticLicenseStatistics misuse of statistics]].
* '''ASCII''' (see [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII Wikipedia]]) is a character-encoding scheme. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_User_Interface Text User Interface]] is used a lot in {{Roguelike}}s, and because of that, text-based graphics are often referred to as "ASCII" even if they use a different scheme like EBCDIC or an "extended ASCII"[[note]]The first 128 codes of those schemes are the same as the ASCII ones[[/note]] scheme such as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_page_437 CP437]] or Unicode.
** Likewise, in the Windows world, "ANSI" is used to refer to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows-1252 the Windows-1252 encoding]], especially as opposed to "Unicode" (itself actually [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UTF-16 a specific Unicode encoding]]).[[note]]It is said that a function has both ANSI and Unicode versions when one version accepts single-byte character strings ''usually'' in Windows-1252 and the other accepts UTF-16 character strings.[[/note]] It is not actually an ANSI standard.
* The word '''claymore''' does not refer to a specific type of sword. The word is a corruption of the Scots Gaelic phrase ''claidheamh mòr'', which means big sword. It is commonly used to describe both the late medieval two-handed swords, and the 17th- and 18th century scottish basket-hilted broadswords, because both kinds were longer and heavier than the norm for swords at the time.
* '''Otaku'''. In the Western world, this somehow became the word for "anime fan". In Japan, it's a (pejorative) word for geek or someone who's a little too into their hobby (the stereotypical railfan would be a train otaku, for example). The etymology gets muddled too since while it does mean "house", it does not refer to a literal house (as a result of this confusion, people thought the word was a reference to shut-ins) but a figurative word similar to "clan".
* '''Anime''' is Japanese for animation. That's it. There never was a special distinction between anime and other cartoons but in the West, it gets its own category just because the art has certain similarities with each other. Technically, there's no such thing as "anime art" or "anime style". ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''' or Creator/{{Disney}} would also be called anime in Japan. On a more pedantic note, even other Japanese 2D media (visual novels, manga, light novels, etc.) get pinned under the "anime" umbrella because they share similar media tropes; if a trope happens in one, expect it to be called an "anime" thing regardless of where the trope originated from.
** On a similar note, '''manga''' just means comics. Any comic. However, neither Chinese nor Korean comics consider themselves manga, although they share similar styles. They are respectively '''{{Manhua}}''' and '''{{Manhwa}}'''.
* '''[[LeParkour Parkour]]''' is getting from point A to point B while conserving energy. '''Free-running''' is getting from point A to point B while doing fancy acrobatics.
* In cuisine, an ''' entrée''' is not an appetizer. In traditional French cuisine, the main course was ''le rotí'', which consisted of a roast cut of meat, or a fowl, which was carved at the table, and ''les entrées'' were all courses eaten before ''le rotí''. Very few restaurants, even in France, serve ''rotí''-style main courses nowadays, but the tradition of calling the other dishes entrées remains.
** Note: This only applies to American English. ''Entrée'' is the French term for "the dish before the main dish" (while an "appetizer" is an "apéritif"), and Commonwealth English follows modern French usage.
* '''Isekai''' literally means "another world", as in the tropes TrappedInAnotherWorld or ReincarnateInAnotherWorld, whether be an AlternateUniverse, inside the world of media, or on a different planet. Thanks to the boom of fantasy media featuring the trope the 2010s, the term often gets used to mean "trapped in a fantasy world", or just plain "fantasy world" (implying the world is the "other" because it's different from ours).
* '''Isotope'''. The proper term for its common use is '''nuclide''' -- that is, a substance with a fixed number of protons and neutrons. '''Isotopes''' are two or more substances with the same number of protons and different numbers of neutrons -- that is, the difference is like between a ''boy'' and a ''brother'' -- the latter can only be used as a comparative to something else.
* '''Queer''''s original and proper meaning is 'strange' or 'suspicious', but over time it has evolved - or devolved - to mean the same thing that 'gay' now means, 'homosexual'. It is used in other contexts to refer to other kinds of abnormal sexualities and gender types (as in "New Queer Cinema").
** On a related note, the word '''abnormal''' itself is often negative, but it originally just meant "deviating from the norm". So referring to queer people as abnormal is true from an etymological standpoint, but likely to cause offense. A safer word to use here would be '''atypical'''.
* '''Enormity''' is traditionally defined along the lines of "The great or extreme scale, seriousness, or extent of something ''generally considered to be morally wrong''." It does ''not'' simply mean "seriousness", and it certainly doesn't just mean "big." For example, "[[VomitingCop The policeman grew nauseous as he realized the]] [[MoralEventHorizon enormity of the crime]]" is correct. "The crowd stood in awe at the enormity of the tower" is not, unless the tower is somehow inherently evil.
** However, ''[[http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/enormous enormous]]'' lost the meaning of evilness and nowadays just means "very big". [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enormity Some authorities say]] the same thing happened to "enormity"; languages change.
** Speaking of errors this page likes to point out: the policeman may have grown nauseated (stricken with nausea), but probably not nauseous (capable of causing nausea).
** Though a policeman becoming nauseated and vomiting [[VomitChainReaction could cause nausea in other people]], meaning the policeman would have become nauseous as well as nauseated.
* A '''StatuteOfLimitations''' is a law which lays down how much time you have to bring a civil action, or for there to be a criminal prosecution. It is not the time period itself. When people say "the statute of limitations is about to expire", this makes no sense unless the law itself is about to get turfed with a sunset clause. One of the limitation periods that the statute lays down might be expiring, though. Only moderately pedantic, though, as "the statute of limitations is about to expire on that" is less passive than "that is about to expire under the statute of limitations", so some style guides might prefer the former while acknowledging the inaccuracy. Indeed, within the legal profession, "the statute of limitations has run/passed" is not only perfectly valid, but is preferred usage (in the US at least) when talking about time-barred actions. (In informal legal usage, lawyers will usually abbreviate it and say the action is [=SOLed=]--meaning not only "statute of limitations" but also "[[SophisticatedAsHell shit outta luck]].")
** ''Statue'' Of Limitations is simply a spelling error. [[note]]unless referring to an actual statue, perhaps an antithesis to the US Art/StatueOfLiberty[[/note]]
* '''Socialism''' refers to an economic system wherein the "means of production" are owned or managed in common, to some degree or other. '''Communism''' originally meant "revolutionary socialism" in general, but since Karl Marx's time, it has almost always been used to identify adherents to Marx's theories, or of his and his successors (such as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, or Mao).
** As with all such terms, there's a wide range in how they're used in practice. Policy positions that might be called "socialist" in one country would not be seen that way in another.[[note]]For example, a Canadian-style health care system--where hospitals are privately run, but all people's health insurance is provided by the government--would be considered "socialized medicine" by the standards of the US, but not by the standards of the UK, where hospital employees work directly for a government agency.[[/note]] And any move towards increased common control over any industry could be called a move ''toward'' socialism (by its supporters if the term "socialism" is popular, by its opponents if the term is unpopular).
** The terms are also used differently in specialized areas. In Marxist theory, for example, "communism" refers to the end state of socialism, in which production is so abundant that neither government nor money is needed. "Communist" governments, by their own self-understanding, did not govern "communist" countries, but rather governed ''socialist'' countries that (it was believed) would progress ''towards'' communism.
* If you're talking about whether two facts are in accord, you might ask whether they "jibe with" each other. ("jibe" is a nautical term.) You wouldn't ask whether they ''jive'' with each other, unless you're asking whether they're grooving to that funky music.
* '''Casual''', by its original definition, meant irregular or occasionally, which fits well with a person that does something every now and then instead of doing it regularly. Nowadays, people use casual, in terms of video games or other forms of entertainment activity, as an insult towards people that do not dedicate their time to an activity and even many video games have begun to use casual to mean "easy".
* '''Gimmick''' originally meant something that is designed to draw in attraction and amusement. People today now use gimmick as way of saying [[Administrivia/ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontLike "this has a gimmick, therefore, it sucks."]] While there can be misuse of gimmicks that make it bad overall, most people that slam something for being gimmicky or relying on a gimmick do so ''because'' there's a gimmick and not because the gimmick itself was bad.
* '''Rape''' means to commit sexual intercourse on a person who either did not legally consent (as in, they said no) or ''could'' not legally consent to the act (as in, they were drunk, asleep or JailBait), or to plunder or raze a country in a violent manner. For centuries the word "rape" commonly meant "take by force" and could be applied to both people and objects (whence came "The Rape of the Sabine Women" and Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock"). People now use rape to describe someone utterly destroying another person in a game, despite the fact that there's no sexual activity involved at all (the usage is entirely figurative here, but still laced with UnfortunateImplications).
** The "plunder and raze" definition, while still correct, is rarely used these days. It's still recognizable, however, in "Rape of Nanjing".
* '''Animation''' is not just a filming style involving showing progressive drawings at a fast pace to simulate movement. It is ''anything'' which can be described as "lively, vibrant, or capable of movement". Only moderately pedantic because the old use is still remembered, especially in the antonym "inanimate", but confusion still tends to arise when speaking of things like "[[OurZombiesAreDifferent animated corpses]]".
* '''Pristine''' is typically used by most people to simply mean "clean," as opposed to the word's actual meaning which is "a thing which is virtually unchanged from its original form." In other words, a dirty hunk of raw hematite ore fresh out of the ground is "pristine" but if you smelt it into a geometrically perfect iron bar and polish it up really nice then it is no longer pristine at all. This one is moderately pedantic because at this point most people seem to have forgotten the word's actual meaning, but it's not completely pedantic because this meaning is definitely worth keeping; we already have more than enough words that mean "clean" (for example, "clean") but very few words that mean the same thing as "pristine."
** If "pristine" is supposed to mean "unchanged from the original" but many people have stopped using it that way, [[{{Irony}} does that mean the word pristine is no longer pristine]]?
* '''Literal''' is used often for emphatic filler, regardless of whether the situation described is a concrete demonstration of an expression that is meant allegorically or whether the term has both concrete and allegorical meanings for the definition to apply to. Examples:
** ''He literally has no shoes!'' - If you mean he's in possession of no shoes, on his feet or elsewhere, that's as concrete as it gets. If there's a metaphorical meaning 'without shoes' signifies, it's not a commonly accepted one.
** ''They literally fell in love!'' - 'Love' is an abstract, so they can't land in any literal love. Did gravity literally yank them down into an emotional state of mutual attraction and affection?
* '''Cryogenics''' is a branch of physics dealing with the production of extremely cold temperatures and the way that certain materials react within those temperatures. It's often mistakenly used in place of '''cryonics''', the practice of freezing organic tissue to prevent it from decaying.
* '''Osmosis''' is the process by which water moves through a semi-permeable membrane[[note]]Something the solvent can pass through, but not the solute.[[/note]] from a highly concentrated solution to a lower concentrated one. Because plants use this process to absorb water, it's sometimes used to describe anything being absorbed.
** In cases where a substance other than water moves through such a membrane, the word "diffusion" is more appropriate.
** However, in some situations, such as a plant absorbing minerals, the correct term is actually 'active transport'. It all depends on whether the movement of the substance requires energy or not.
* '''Tempering''' is a word often used to denote process of making something harder, literally or figuratively (e.g. 'tempering courage in the heat of battle'). Metals and alloys are hardened in the process called hardening and consisting of heating the object to high temperature where the metal is malleable and then quickly quenching it. Tempering is a process or heating in relatively low temperatures (~500 F for steel) for a longer period of time to make the object slightly softer but way less brittle and more elastic.
** Related to this is the idiom of "losing one's temper", which means that a person has lost some amount of self-control, usually in a fit of anger. However, when someone says "he has a temper" or "he has quite the temper", it's meant to imply that the person frequently "breaks", which is the exact opposite of what the phrase actually means. Saying "he has a bad temper" would be more correct.
* '''White''' (the common racial term) is one of those words that is universally employed but that nobody has been able to define with total accuracy. If you stopped people on the street and asked them what, exactly, made a person "white", you wouldn't be very successful. Notwithstanding those people who would look at you like you were crazy and hit you with a MathematiciansAnswer [[ShapedLikeItself ("You're 'white' if you're a white person!")]], you'd be bound to get one of three common "definitions", each of which is fallacious.
** Most people would probably say "a person with light skin." Really? That will come as a shock to the many Japanese, Koreans, North Chinese, and Tungus and Manchu peoples who sometimes turn up fairer-skinned than most Europeans. And how, then, do you explain the light-complexioned Arabs (who, having Semitic features, are technically of African stock) of the more northerly parts of the Middle East? Or albinos, who can be of any race but are ''always'' lacking pigmentation?
** Those who respond in a more pedantic way might say "a person displaying [[FacialProfiling Caucasoid facial features]] instead of Mongoloid [[note]] here meaning "looking like a Mongolian", ''not'' "suffering from Down's Syndrome" [[/note]] or Negroid ones." Trouble is, that category would include most of the indigenous peoples of India, who are typically light-red- or brown-skinned, and in the tropical south can have complexions as black as the night. And then, on the other hand, you have light-to-medium-colored Ashkenazi Jews with their decidedly un-Aryan "hooked noses"; or part-Cherokee American "whites", who display the telltale Amerindian curling incisors and elevated cheekbones.
** People for whom "white = European" would probably respond with something along the lines of "a member of any ethnic group claiming political representation or national sovereignty in Europe." Well, okay...but Eurasia is tectonically one big continent, so where do Europeans start becoming Asians? Historically, Eastern Europe has been said to end at the Ural Mountains in the north, in the Caucasus region (just beyond Ukraine) in the center, and at the Strait of Bosporus in Turkey in the south; but people's physical features do not [[NoOntologicalInertia automatically shift at these borders]]. And even within the generally accepted boundaries of Europe, what about the Finns, Lapps [[note]] politically correct term: ''Sami'' [[/note]] , Estonians, and Hungarians - all of them Uralic peoples, and thus of Asian origin (and occasionally displaying subtle Asian facial markers), and in fact were at one time prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods in the United States ''because they were deemed not white''? What about the Gypsies [[note]] politically correct term: ''Roma'' [[/note]], who are usually considered nonwhite but were living as naturalized Europeans long before the modern borders of their host countries were set? What about Bulgarians, who are genetically ''half-Turkish''? And on and on and on...
** For all of the above reasons, modern-day anthropologists tend to avoid using the word "white" unless it is spoken or written with caveats, preferring the much less racialist terms "European" or (for North Americans and Australasians) "Neo-European." Otherwise, they would have to constantly waste time explaining "whiteness" with the convoluted definition of "light-skinned people genetically linked to the westernmost part of Eurasia who are not Uralic, Roma, Bulgarian, etc." Perhaps "white" will one day disappear from the layperson's vocabulary as well, if its use becomes too controversial and/or people come to believe that if it is wrong to use "yellow" or "red" as colorist terms, then "white" and "black" shouldn't be used either.
* '''Epic''' refers to "epic poetry," which means narratives that are heroic, majestic, or impressively great. Calling something "epic" is to compare it to the scale of something from an epic narrative ... Which is meaningless if one doesn't know about epic narratives. Since internet culture uses this word to describe ''anything'' that is remotely good, that underscores how meaningless it's become. (Of course, ''great'', ''wonderful'', ''awesome'', and ''excellent'' have long been similarly misused, so this is par for the course.)
** It's gotten to the point that there are now [[http://stopsay.in/epic backlash sites]] and [[http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Word-Epic-is-Overused/170782214724 entire groups]] against its misuse.
* In archery, one does not '''fire''' or '''shoot''' an arrow, one '''looses''' an arrow.
* A '''nymphomaniac''' is specifically a sexually compulsive ''woman''. The male equivalent of nymphomania is ''satyromania'', both respectively taking their names from notoriously randy all female and all male Greek mythological creatures.
* For the most part, a '''mime''' means basically the same today as it did 2,000 years ago - an actor who performs silently. However, back then it did ''not'' mean "a silent clown [[WhiteMaskOfDoom with a blank white face"]]; that sense came from the French theatrical clown Pierrot, who was originally ''not'' silent. And the original Greco-Roman mime performances were not totally devoid of sound; they were more like ballet, with the actors dancing or making similar stylized movements to the accompaniment of music, and often also a chanting chorus narrating some kind of story. Most importantly, the original mimes were ''not'' clowns, not always supposed to be funny. They also did not wear makeup, but grotesque, oversized masks that made them appear inhuman (the "masked humanoid" sense survives in many traditional Asian forms of drama, such as the ''kathakali'' performances of southern India, although modern-day ''kathakali'' actors do not wear masks ''per se'', but [[UncannyValleyMakeup layers of thick-crusted cream makeup that simulate a mask and can be difficult to remove after a performance]]).
* The use of '''Gothic''' to mean "dark and spooky" dates only to the late eighteenth century; the word originally was not supposed to conjure up ghost stories, let alone the punk, heavy metal, and emo genres of music. On the contrary, "Gothic" architecture first appeared in northern France in the twelfth century (in the town of Chartres, specifically), and - paradoxically enough - was originally conceived to allow stained-glass windows in church to admit more natural ''light''. Earlier than that, the Goths were an ethnic group: a people living in eastern Europe and speaking a language distantly related to German; they even had their own alphabet for a time.
** The use of "Gothic" to refer to Creator/TimBurton and/or Batman also merits discussion. Burton is ''not'' truly Gothic; if he were, his movies would be completely inappropriate for children and might even come close to being banned in American markets, for Gothic literature was the hardcore pornography of its time, with plenty of torture and sexual perversion. Burton is more of a satirical post-modernist with a BlackComedy streak. And to call Batman "Gothic" is even further from the older definition: the phrase "Gothic hero" is an oxymoron, since Gothic characters are always villainous at worst and (to some extent) sexually perverse at best, neither of which can be applied to Batman (and lest we forget, the original Gothic protagonist, in [[Creator/JohnMilton Milton's]] ''Literature/ParadiseLost'', was Satan himself!); Batman is closer to an "existentialist" (an adherent of the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, and less directly Creator/AynRand and Nietzsche) - a similarly dark worldview, but one in which heroism is possible.
* '''Emo''': On that note, emo does not automatically mean anything angsty or brooding. Rather it originated from a genre of music characterized by expressive lyrics both positive and negative. Unfortunately thanks to the EmoTeen stereotype, the word often gets tossed around to denote {{Wangst}}y and/or excessive brooding, and can even lead to UnfortunateImplications when used to describe people (usually fictional characters with a DarkAndTroubledPast) that suffer from legitimate mental health issues such as depression.
* '''Epicenter''' literally means "the point ground above the center". It's used specifically for earthquakes--the center of an earthquake is somewhere underground, so the epicenter is the point on the ground directly above the earthquake's center. But because people always heard the word in connection with earthquakes, it's come to have the common meaning "center of something very big and important".
** Similarly, '''ground zero''' literally means "place on the ground below an explosion"--since atomic bombs are usually set to go off in the air for maximum destruction, "ground zero" would be the spot directly below where the bomb went off. But it has come to mean "center of devastation". (During the 90s, the term was often used interchangeably with "square one" to mean "starting point"--as in, "We're going to have to go back to ground zero and start over". But after the 9/11 attacks, when "ground zero" was commonly used to refer to the destroyed World Trade Center site, the term shifted back to something closer to the original meaning.)
* '''Pure wrestling''' normally refers to a game or contest where the participants will only use grappling techniques designed to control and move each other to a desired position. Only in the context of ProfessionalWrestling would it be appropriate to describe matches that make use of chokes, bone breaking, ligament snapping and ''kicks'' as "pure wrestling".
* The large majority of '''sport'''ing industries are also in the business of '''entertainment'''. Only in professional wrestling does "sports entertainment" mean someone cares more about entertaining than looking like a sport instead of sporting event people pay to watch.
* '''Sacred''', '''sanctified''', and other variations of the word do not mean "good". The term "sacred" has two major accepted meanings by religious scholars, neither of which has the same meaning as "good."
** 1. '''Set apart''', usually in regards to land which is set apart for some special (usually religious, but not always) use and considered to be inviolable. So land set aside for the building of a temple or cemetery is sacred, but technically so is land set aside for a national park. It can also refer to any other thing or belief which is considered inviolable. For example, someone holding their marriage sacred.
** 2. '''The spiritual world''' and everything that exists within it. While the Sacrum ''does'' include Heaven and is considered to be a superior and more pure plane of existence, it does also include Hell, Purgatory, and all those who dwell within.
*** Related, '''profane''' refers to '''the non-spiritual, or material world''' and everything which exists within it - Earth, the Sun, humanity, animals, plants... basically everything which exists within our perceivable reality. It does not mean "evil" or "corrupt" or "blasphemous." The devil and demons are ''certainly'' not profane, since as established, they exist within the Sacrum.
* A '''prototype''' is commonly used to refer to "an experimental early version designed to test what can and cannot be fit into a furbished model". Bonus points for including [[SuperPrototype more powerful versions of features the production model lacks]]. In actual engineering, this is the definition of a ''Concept Model'' (or Concept Car, as the most famous examples are from the automobile industry) while a real prototype is supposed to be as close to the final production model as possible.
* '''Venerable'''. These days, the word has come to mean "old", but that's not the correct definition. Venerable (literally, "worthy of veneration") refers to something that has achieved respect through age, wisdom ''or'' character. So, it's entirely possible for an 18 year old boy to be "venerable" if he shows great character and wisdom, but these days, you'd probably get a funny look from both the person you're speaking to ''and'' the boy if you call him that.
** The Catholic Church uses the term in its original sense; when they refer to (for example) the "venerable Fulton Sheen", they are saying that they're fairly sure Archbishop Sheen lived a life of heroic virtue (and is therefore worthy of veneration), but they aren't (yet) prepared to say with certainty that Sheen is a saint.
* '''Mail''' is often used as a synonym of 'armour' (e.g. 'plate mail', 'scale mail') but this is an old name for a chain armour (only!) that comes from French word ''maille'' meaning 'chain'. This means that 'chainmail', although not an error per se, is a pleonasm at best. The latter word has been first used by sir Walter Scott and so the common misuse began. Use of the word 'mail' when referring to any kind of armour other than chain is incorrect.
* '''Shall''' and '''will''', the two auxiliaries used to form the future tense, are not completely interchangeable with each other. The traditional distinction is that to express the plain future, one uses ''shall'' with the first person and ''will'' with the second and third persons. But to express one's volition, one uses ''will'' with the first person and ''shall'' with the second and third persons. Thus, "I shall die" is a statement about the speaker's opinion of his fate, whereas "I will die" is a statement about the speaker's determination to die. Another example: "Bob will lose the game" is a statement about the speaker's opinion of whether Bob will win the game, whereas "Bob shall lose the game" is a statement about the speaker's determination to ensure Bob's losing the game.
* '''Leonardo da Vinci'''. Common usage refers to his works as "da Vincis" as though it were his last name, but Vinci is a location; Leonardo da Vinci literally translates to "Leonardo of Vinci." It's like saying something by Jerry of New York is created by "of New York." His full name was '''Leondaro di ser Piero da Vinci''' (Leonardo, son of Piero, from Vinci.)
* '''Arithmetic''' is not synonymous with '''Mathematics''' as it only covers the basic 4 operations {addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
* '''Trap''' has had its use hotly debated about over the years. Among Anime/Manga consumers, the term originally meant a boy of the OtokonokoGenre variety, i.e. a very convincing crossdressing male. Over time it devolved into simply [[DudeLooksLikeALady any male that looks effeminate enough]] regardless of what clothing he's wearing, or more peculiarly as a derogatory slur/ alternate nickname towards {{Transgender}} people. Its DistaffCounterpart term "reverse trap" is treated much the same way, however it also gets used for short haired girls or {{Tomboy}}s regardless of presentation.
* '''Triggered''' is when someone who suffered a traumatic event has said event replay in their minds when something "triggers" that specific memory. While having someone triggered generally does get them upset, it does not apply to people who are simply upset or angry at something that just bothers them (such as getting angry that their takeout order was wrong).
* '''Dice''' is the plural form of the word 'die' (as in, a little cube with dots on), however, it's used by many people as the singular form. For example, someone might say, 'I have a dice' which is equivalent to them saying something like 'I have a hamsters'. It gets ridiculous when people try and find a plural form of 'dice' and come up with the word 'dices', which actually means 'chops into small cubes'.
** "Dice" as a verb can also mean "to play dice games with", so "dices" can also be the third person present form of that verb (this is where the phrase "dicing with Death" comes from).
* No species of bat is blind and many species have vision which is as good as, if not better than, a human's, so someone who is as '''blind as a bat''' may actually have very good eyesight.
* '''Weight''' is a force and is measured in newtons, while '''mass''' is a property of an object which determines the magnitude of this force, and is measured in grams. An object on the moon would weigh less than it would on Earth due to the difference in gravity, but its mass would remain constant.
* A '''pterosaur''' is not a '''dinosaur''', though they are related. Technically, the term 'dinosaur' only refers to reptiles from the groups Ornithischia and Saurischia, which excludes flying reptiles like pterosaurs as well as marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs.
* Terms '''commune''' and '''collective''' are often interchangeable and making a distinction between the two is sometimes portrayed as a case of InsistentTerminology. In reality they are two completely different forms of organization. In commune, property is collective, so it belongs to the organization rather than individuals. In collective, things are also shared but they remain personal property of respective individuals. Also, traditionally, 'commune' means groups that is living together while 'collective' refers to people who live separately and only work together using shared means to achieve their goals.
* '''Detonation''' is often used to describe the combustion of any explosive, but technically only refers to the combustion of high explosives, which produce shock waves which travel faster than the speed of sound. '''Deflagration''' is the proper term used to describe the combustion of low explosives, which produce a flame front which travels much more slowly than the speed of sound.
* If an outcome of a scenario is '''likely''', that isn't necessarily the same thing as it being '''probable'''. If it's "likely", that just means that one can reasonably predict that it might occur. If it's "probable", then one can reasonably predict that it might occur based on principles of '''probability''', a branch of mathematics that uses numbers to weigh multiple possible scenarios against one another. Probability assumes that (all other things being equal) outcomes are more likely if there are a greater number of opportunities for them to occur.[[note]] When rolling a pair of dice, for example, it's more probable that one will roll certain numbers if there are more combinations that will result in those numbers.[[/note]] Many events are "likely" for reasons that can't necessarily be expressed mathematically, but an event isn't "probable" ''unless'' its likelihood can be expressed mathematically.
* The term '''UsefulNotes/IvyLeague''' is commonly used to refer to the eight private universities in the Northeastern United States that are generally considered the country's most prestigious academic institutions. [[note]] Harvard University in Massachusetts, Columbia University in New York City, Cornell University in upstate New York, Princeton University in New Jersey, Yale University in Connecticut, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Brown University in Rhode Island, and the University of Pennsylvania in...[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Pennsylvania]].[[/note]] Officially, though, it's a sports term that specifically refers to the collegiate athletic conference that those schools compete in. And before it came to have connotations of elitism and academic excellence, "Ivy League" was a fairly neutral grouping; those eight schools just happened to compete in the same conference because they're in the same geographic region. These days, though, the term has been widely adopted as a general term for the schools, and nearly ''everybody'' recognizes it as such.
* '''{{Netorare}}''' and its counterpart ''netori'' get subjected to this treatment by western internet fans. Originally referring to a specific scenario of [[YourCheatingHeart cheating]] (that is to say, a woman/man being stolen away by another for shame and sexual titilation), it since evolved into a catch all term for when a character's crush doesn't return their feelings and dates someone else, no relationship or shame required. It also sees usage when a character first starts out liking another, but falls out of love with them for whatever reason and looks to another.
** At this point, it’s pretty clear that when the name of an anime genre is adopted by Western fans, it ''will'' be misused. No exceptions.
* '''Miracle''' is often misused to mean a really lucky event, typically one so lucky it seems like it must be magical. It actually means an event that's ''impossible'' without breaking the laws of nature/reality (a literal DeusExMachina, if you will.) Thus, if you fall out of an airplane without a parachute and land just right so you are unharmed, you're just really lucky. If, however, you survive due to God teleporting you to safety or sending an angel to catch you, that's a miracle.
* Despite most people treating '''Coronavirus''' as the name of the specific virus involved in the international outbreak of 2020, that's actually just the ''class'' of virus it belongs to -- in other words, it's not specifically named "Coronavirus", it just happens to be ''a'' coronavirus. Unfortunately the actual name is the rather less snappy '''Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2''' or [=SARS-CoV-2=] for short. Despite SARS being the familiar name for another coronavirus, the name SARS 2 hasn't caught on.
* '''Bourgeoisie''', in the Marxist sense, is sometimes simply used as a fancy synonym for rich people. It actually is a bit more complicated: the bourgeoisie are the people in charge of the means of production (i.e the people in control of factories and the like.) One can be rich without be a member of the bourgeoisie, as some rich people [[IdleRich don't actually make anything.]]
* '''Semester''' is sometimes used for schools that have three school terms, such as those in Japan(for example, in ''[[{{VideoGame/Persona 5}} Persona 5 Royal]]'', the part from January to February that is exclusive to [[UpdatedRerelease Royal]] is called the "Third Semester"), even though the word refers to a half-year term, and a more appropriate term would be ''trimester.''
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Very Pedantic]]
* '''Accuracy''' and '''precision''' are not the same thing. "Accuracy" is how close to the target one is, "precision" is how close together one's shots are. If one were to shoot at a circular target and all of the shots hit the outermost ring, but are grouped very closely together, then one is very precise but not very accurate.
** Similarly, accuracy and precision are often confused when describing the merits of a firearm - they are often described as accurate when the correct word would be precise. Only a human operator can make the firearm ''accurate''; a firearm is ''precise'' when it can consistently place shots in a predictable location.
** The distinction is extremely important in the hard sciences: precision is the specificity of a measurement (in practice, the number of decimal places in the value), while accuracy is the degree to which it is correct. To claim that a kilogram of iron has a mass of 70.0000000000000000000000000000001 grams is very precise, and not at all accurate.
* An '''acronym''' is a type of initialism which forms a word, such as "laser" ('''l'''ight '''a'''mplification by '''s'''timulated '''e'''mission of '''r'''adiation), or "amphetamine" ('''a'''lpha-'''m'''ethyl-'''ph'''en'''et'''hyl'''amine''').[[note]]An initialism does not need to be composed ''entirely'' of initials; it can contain word fragments or whole words. See [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initialism The Other Wiki]] for more information.[[/note]] This distinction is commonly ignored; Creator/TheBBC and ''[[UsefulNotes/BritishNewspapers The Guardian]]'' are just two mainstream media outlets who are happy to use "acronym" as though it were synonymous with "initialism".
* This one is probably a lost cause, but '''Adorable''' technically means "deserving of adoration" rather than just being a stronger word for cute. Most dictionaries still include this as a definition, but notes that using it to mean "cute" is a lot more common.
* '''Ago''' means earlier than the ''present'' time, not earlier than a more-recent past time. It is commonly misused in contexts where "earlier" or "prior" would be more appropriate.
* '''Akimbo''': The word "akimbo" means "bowed" or "bent", and is most often used for arms bent with hands resting on hips. Perhaps because this pose is often used by two-pistoled gunfighters in media, the word is sometimes mistakenly applied to any situation in which someone has a matched pair of weapons in his hands. The names of the tropes GunsAkimbo and SwordsAkimbo feature this mistake. A noted example of the correct meaning is a one-time ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}'' villain named Arms Akimbo, whose arms are permanently stuck in place, hands on his hips.
* An '''alicorn''' is the horn of a unicorn, or to be more specific, the substance from which the horn is made. It was believed to have healing powers as early as the 13th century. However, starting with the novels of Creator/PiersAnthony (And popularized even further by the massive PeripheryDemographic of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''), it has come to mean "WingedUnicorn".
** This leads to an interesting false etymology: ''ali-'' is an existing but uncommon Latin prefix for "wing", in addition to the better-known ''-corn'' meaning "horn".
* '''Alien''' used to refer to anyone or anything not native to a country. (For example, a Mexican in America could be called an alien.) Hence the phrase "outer space alien", meaning the being isn't native to Earth. However, the meaning has been muddled up over the years, so that whenever you mention the term "alien" people will automatically think of the outer space kind, and will give you very strange looks when you call a Mexican an "alien" (unless you add "[[TheIllegal illegal]]"). Government documents will use "alien" in the proper use of the word, however (such that, for instance, an [[Webcomic/ElGoonishShive Uryuom]] with U.S. citizenship [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=412 would not be an alien]] in the eyes of the U.S. government).
* An '''android''' is something 'man-like', not necessarily a robot. A shop mannequin is an android, and so would be a hobbit. In some works of SpeculativeFiction it means "humanoid robot", in others "robot that resembles a human", in yet others "organic ArtificialHuman". Androids should also not be confused with '''cyborgs''': androids are completely inhuman, whereas a cyborg is at least partly human (or, in science fiction, partly alien).
** For that matter, the first use of the word "robot" has in ''Theatre/{{RUR}}''. The robots in the play were organic constructs, not mechanical ones that are often pictured when the word is used. (Specifically, "robot" is the Czech word for "slave", and the original concept of robots was that they were like slaves in that they were sentient beings working for humans, except they were artificial.)
** The proper term for a [[RobotGirl female man-like robot]] is gynoid - "woman-like". In this sense the words are still used in context of obesity.
* '''Anal''', by itself, technically just means "relating to the anus". While it's often used as a shortening of '''Anal retentive''' (stuck up or nitpicky), this is considered slang and not a "proper" definition.
* '''Anniversary''', means a celebration of one year, the root word ''annus'' (note the two n) being Latin for "year". However, it's used commonly by young people to refer to any time together from weeks to months to years. (A celebration of a month would be a "mensiversary", but that's a highly archaic term.) On another note, it's also quite common to disregard "celebration" as part of the word's definition -- which could resort in some discomfort when one mentions "the anniversary of 9/11", to say the least.
* The '''arm''' technically lies solely between the shoulder joint and the elbow joint. Similarly, the '''leg''' lies between the knee joint and the ankle joint. They are parts of the upper and lower extremities, respectively.
* '''Armageddon''' and '''Apocalypse''' are not the same thing. Apocalypse, literally, simply means "revelation", but since the biblical Book of Revelation (also known as the Apocalypse of John) is mostly concerned with the end of the world, that is what "apocalypse" has come to mean. Armageddon, on the other hand, means "the mountain of Megiddo", where the final battle between good and evil will take place according to the Book of Revelation. The correct fancy word to use when discussing TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt is '''eschaton''' (the branch of theology concerning itself with the end times is hence called '''eschatology''').
* '''Artificial''' originally meant "full of skilled artifice" (''i.e.'' constructed expertly), rather than just "something constructed by humans in imitation of something natural".
* '''Aryan''' was originally a Sanskrit word associated with India, meaning "noble" or "civilized". The Nazis, unfortunately, used it as their word for racial purity, and in modern times, it is now associated with them and white supremacy.
* The phrase '''as such''' needs a precedent noun. "I am an adult citizen of this republic and ''as such'' have the right to vote in its elections": "such" means "such a person", ''i.e.'' "an adult citizen". "As such" is not a fancy synonym for "thus" or "therefore".
* The word '''average''' came from the french word for a damaged ship or shipment, avarie. This was anglicized into average during the colonization of the Americas, when there was a lot of English-to-French trade. Every time a shipment was damaged, they would calculate the total amount each person would have to pay by splitting the total up into equal pieces. Taking an average eventually moved from "splitting a sum up into equal parts" to "the most equal division of a certain sum", which is its modern definition. You can see a bit of this old influence in the mathematical average calculation, which still involves adding things up and then dividing them.
* The word '''awful''' used to mean "deserving of awe" (''i.e.'' "awe-full"), and was originally a ''good'' thing to call something. In modern times, the word "awesome" has suffered the same fate, having the same meaning as "awful" originally did (''i.e.'' something that is deserving of awe, something that people are awed by), but nowadays it is frequently used to mean "cool" or "impressive".
* '''Begging the question''' is starting an argument by assuming what you want to prove. The phrase is far more often used to mean what is properly called '''raising the question'''.
* The scientific definition of a '''berry''' concerns how a fruit stores its seeds. Under this definition, grapes and tomatoes are berries, but strawberries and raspberries are "aggregate fruits".
* '''Bestiality''' is any sexual act considered "bestial", including incest or sodomy. Sexual attraction to animals specifically is '''zoophilia'''.
** Also note that "bestiality" refers to an ''act'', while "zoophilia" refers to an ''attraction'' on which one may or may not act (that said, an act may be a requirement of formal psychological diagnosis). Partly because many humans experience sexual attraction as a powerful compulsion, people tend to conflate ''attraction'' and ''action'', but they are distinct (see similar notes for "pedophilia" below).
** "Sodomy" itself is a very vague term, as it's not exactly clear what the "sin of Sodom" originally was. (In Literature/TheBible Sodom is associated with a number of sins, some of them non-sexual, such as [[SacredHospitality inhospitality]] and cruelty to the poor.) Nowadays the term is commonly understood to mean "anal intercourse", but in law, it can mean a variety of purportedly deviant practices.
* '''Big Ben''' is the name of the bell at the top of the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster in London. The tower itself was simply known as the ''Clock Tower'' until 2012[[note]]some old sources call it "St. Stephen's Tower", but this was only a nickname, never an official one[[/note]], when it was renamed the ''Elizabeth Tower'' for [[UsefulNotes/HMTheQueen the Queen's]] Diamond Jubilee, not Big Ben.
* A '''bigot''' isn't a racist or sexist or any other kind of "hater" you can think of. In fact, a bigot doesn't judge people at all - or at least not their intrinsic natures. When the word first became common during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, it was used to mean someone who wouldn't tolerate other people's ''opinions'' - particularly a person's religious beliefs, or lack thereof. The play ''Theatre/InheritTheWind'' uses the word in its original sense frequently. It was probably the TV series ''Series/AllInTheFamily'' that was most responsible for shifting the definition of ''bigot'' all the way to "hater."
* '''{{Bishonen}}''' (美少年[[labelnote:hiragana]]びしょうねん[[/labelnote]])is only supposed to mean androgynously attractive ''underaged'' (specifically, under eighteen) males, with 美男子[[labelnote:hiragana]]びだんし[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]bidanshi[[/labelnote]] addressing of-age examples. Of course, outside Japan, very few care about these subtle distinctions.
* '''Black and white''' images contain shades of grey. The technical term in the image-processing business is '''greyscale''', with "black and white" referring to images that have been reduced simply to those two colours.
* The meaning of '''boat''' is highly variable. On the Great Lakes, any vessel that floats on the surface of the water is a boat -- from the smallest rowboat to the largest thousand-footer. Visiting oceanic vessels are called "salties". Also, in naval use, a '''boat''' is any watercraft small enough to be taken aboard a larger '''ship'''. The use of "boat" for a submarine -- the largest of which are the size of old battleships -- comes from the origin of the type: when military submarines started appearing in numbers in the late 1800s, they were classified as "submarine torpedo boats" -- ''i.e.'' underwater torpedo boats.
** Related to the submarine example, any ship or craft regardless of size that uses only one weapon or one system is sometimes called a [weapon name] boat. For example, a craft that has nothing but missiles for weapons may be called a missile boat.

* Technically, the proper idiom for being highly eager to commence is '''champing at the bit''', not '''chomping at the bit'''. Champing at the bit is an equine reference when horses to chew on the bit when the animal is impatient or eager. Horses ''do'' '''chomp''' at the bit sometimes, but for entirely different reasons, usually when they're upset or angry. However, thanks to the verb "to champ" being archaic these days, people interchange "chomp" for "champ".
* To '''chastise''' isn’t to tell someone off; it’s to administer CorporalPunishment. '''Castigate''' is the same.
* '''Chauvinism''' originally meant extreme patriotism and nationalism, and the belief in one nation's superiority over others. It has since evolved to mean a belief in the superiority of a specific group of people (not necessarily a nation) over other groups. One example of such is male chauvinism, which is probably the most common meaning today. The term is also often confused with '''sexism''', which is prejudice and discrimination based on sex.
* '''Computer''' originally comes from the verb "to compute", which means to calculate. In the early twentieth century, people who calculated the exact time were called computers. The meaning the word has today is derived from this, as computers were originally built to calculate mathematical equations.
** On the lowest level, that's all a computer does, even today. Browsing the web, playing an ego shooter, or writing texts in a word processor ultimately amounts to nothing but basic mathematics plus the copying of data -- plus conditional jumps, which again amount to the calculation of an address, and setting some data accordingly. On top of that, it's layers upon layers of abstraction.
** In the 19th century, the words “computer” and “calculator” were used interchangeably to designate the people--generally women--who did the number-crunching behind the hard sciences.
* '''Conscious[=/=]self-conscious''': "Self-conscious" typically means "unduly conscious that one is observed by others" where "conscious" is taken to mean "immediately aware of". Less commonly, they are both used to mean "self-awareness" and things to that general effect.
* '''[[UsefulNotes/PoliticalIdeologies Conservative]]''' should not be used to describe someone who is opposed to change of any sort, let alone somebody who wants to turn the clock back to an earlier era. That is a '''reactionary''', and such people are actually quite rare nowadays[[note]]outside the Internet, [[{{GIFT}} of course]][[/note]]. A conservative merely argues that things should not be changed if it is not absolutely necessary to do so, or that change should come as gradually as possible. Many conservatives in the past have been willing to accept economic reform (and, to a lesser extent, social reform) as long as the cultural norms of civilization itself were left untouched.
** "Conservative" and "liberal" have come to mean very different things than when the terms were more or less established in the French revolution; ''les conservateurs'' were those opposed to the social ideals of the revolution and wanted to "conserve" the monarchy -- and, incidentally, sat on the right wing of the French parliamentary chamber -- while ''les libéraux'' were those intent on "liberating" the people from monarchic rule. In the past few decades, conservatives have been more about binding personal liberties ("conserving" the social order) while disestablishing the state ("liberating" people -- in theory, anyway -- from rulership), while the liberal side of the equation seems to maintain its intent to open up social freedoms while maintaining (or even ''increasing'') the role of the state. This is the problem with defining a multi-dimensional question on a simple left/right axis. Political theorist David Nolan (creator of the Nolan chart, which corrects for the inconsistencies of the left/right axis) has suggested that ''populist'' be substituted for what most Americans refer to as ''liberal'' - fitting, since American liberalism is usually thought to have split into its "classical" and "modern" wings in the 1890s, when the Democratic party (cautiously) co-opted the People's (or "Populist") party in order to blunt the accusation from socialists and others that they were no different from the Republican party.
*** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism ''Classical'' liberalism]], interestingly, is a political philosophy in which the freedom of the individual person is prized over all other ideals -- however, the freedom of any individual stops at the point where it begins to infringe upon the freedom of ''other'' individuals ("liberal" still has this sense in mainland Europe; in North America "libertarian" is closer, though not quite synonymous). How this intersects with the modern Anglosphere's liberal paradigm, which favors increasing safety regulations (up to and including seat-belt laws), is an interesting question.
*** It gets even more complicated, because "conservatism" also is often used in philosophy as a description of behaviour based on some non-negotiable principles or values and thus it is more a opposition of "opportunism" or "pragmatism". The values may be of any kind, so it is completely possible to be a "conservative liberal" (this is the description actually used by at least several European libertarian parties) if one considers liberty to be a non-negotiable value. In this vein, a conservative liberal will vote in favour of any solution that maintains liberty at the cost of safety, while conservative securitarian may be eager to forfeit freedom to increase security. The name "conservative" comes from the fact that such people did not wanted to ''change'' their values but rather tried to find new applications for them.
** Intertwined with the above controversy is the common blurring of the line between ''society'' and ''culture''. The "social" structure is just that - a structure, an artificial construct created by humans to preserve law and order according to an arbitrary standard; whereas "culture" is more organic, more universal (at least in theory), and primarily concerned with anything humans do that is not necessary for survival (religion, art, entertainment). One can be both culturally liberal in believing that artists have the right to create pornography and socially conservative in insisting that that pornography never be distributed to - let alone involve - children. Similarly, one can be culturally conservative by remaining a good Christian or Jew or Buddhist, but socially liberal if those religious beliefs lead one to oppose the status quo in the name of a higher standard of justice (anti-abortion protesters, for instance).
* When a person is cremated, what their relatives get back are actually called '''cremains''' (as in [[{{Portmanteau}} "cremated remains"]]), although this word was apparently coined in the mid-1950s by funeral directors who wished to avoid the word "ashes".[[note]]The earliest known use in writing is from ''Magazine/{{Time}}'' magazine in 1954.[[/note]] Ashes are the remains of incompletely-consumed combustible material; what is returned to the family following a cremation are the ashes and pulverized fragments of incompletely combusted bones. In any work created prior to 1954, "ashes" would be completely correct.
* '''Crescendo''' is the process of getting louder, or greater in some other way, ''not'' a rise on pitch, or to the peak reached at the end of that process. So something can't “reach a crescendo”--well, it can, but that would mean the point where things ''start'' to get more intense--much less “build to a crescendo”. The word you're probably looking for is '''climax''' (although pedants would point out that "climax" is Greek for ladder, and originally meant something similar to "crescendo". A pedant might recommend "apex", "acme", "pinnacle" or "zenith" instead.) Jamie Bernstein has suggested that the word is misused this way "because the sound of the word so felicitously evokes the crashing of cymbals: 'the crash at the end-o.'"
* '''Crucifix''' is a depiction of a crucified Christ (hence the name), usually sculpted (but also painted or engraved). The cross without the depiction of Christ is not a crucifix, but simply a 'cross'.
* '''Cryogenics''' is the study of very low temperatures; the preservation of living tissue at such temperatures is accurately called '''cryonics'''.
* '''Culture Shock''' was originally a term describing a situation where either two cultures with vastly different levels of technology meet, or an isolated culture is exposed to a much larger community (for instance, humanity making contact with another alien species for the first time, or Japan's centuries of isolationism under the Tokugawa Shogunate ending) For instance, the Native Americans meeting the New World explorers and later pioneers is a valid case of culture shock. This is also the term that was used in ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' to describe why the US Government kept the knowledge of the Monolith secret at first. The much more mundane meaning of the word (an individual adjusting to life in a different culture) has completely replaced the original meaning of the word.
* '''Cutpurse''' is, today, used in EpicFantasy as a synonym for either "pickpocket" or "mugger". In fact, a cutpurse is neither. A purse, in this context, is a small pouch, hung from a belt, which would normally hold coins or valuables. A cutpurse would cut the strings or straps attaching the purse to the belt, and take the entire purse. Alternatively, a cutpurse would cut the bottom of the purse open and steal the contents that way. A pickpocket, (called a "dip" in medieval times) would take objects out of the purse without tampering with it, and a mugger would threaten or beat the victim until he handed over the purse.
** Modern cutpurses still exist. They are thieves who remove items from pocket by making a slice under the object like wallet (specially one worn in the inner pocket) and allowing the gravity to help them in the task.
* '''Datum''': Originally, "data" was a plural [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Count_noun count noun]] referring to multiple items of recorded information. A single such item was a datum. However, sometime in the 1960s or so (basically, concurrent with the rise of computers) the usage shifted so that "data" is a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_noun mass noun]]. So now it's much more common to say "the data is" and "this data point is" rather than "the data are" and "this datum is". Many modern style guides not only accept but mandate this usage. Nonetheless, it still drives some people up a ''wall''.
** It doesn't help of course that "datum" is now generally used to describe not just any old "data point" but a specific reference point, depriving data of its singular and making this a bit of a lost battle.
** The word media also is starting to show signs of abuse (e.g., "removable media" for a single CD-ROM). If you really want shocking, however, look no further than French, where "media" (as in newspapers) is now most commmonly used as the singular and "medias" as its plural—and that's in a so-called Latin language.
** The word “agenda” was similarly originally plural (“things that are to be done”). This usage did not last long.
* '''Deadly sins''': Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, and Wrath are, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the "seven cardinal vices". The term "Deadly sin" or "mortal sin" refers to any sin that is serious enough to separate a Christian from the grace of God, unless the sinner undergoes the sacrament of reconciliation (confession, penance, and absolution). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Cardinal Vices are contrasted with the Cardinal Virtues, and refers to character traits that are the root of all sin. For instance, one does not murder simply for murder's sake, but because Wrath was awakened when the person was wronged, or because Greed was awakened when the person saw an opportunity to get money, etc.
* '''Decadent''' is sometimes thought to mean "luxurious". It actually means "falling into an inferior condition" (sharing its roots with "decay"), and is nearly synonymous with "degenerate". The common conception is perhaps given to us through the image of the "decadently" wealthy in some common ideas and some [[DeadlyDecadentCourt historical examples]], which doesn't refer to a lavish lifestyle that we would expect, but probably the sort of mentality that encourages inbreeding and jealous paranoia.
* '''Decimate''' comes from the Latin ''decimō, -āre'', which means "to take a tenth part of something". Decimation was the Roman practice of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimation_(Roman_army) executing one of every ten men in a rebellious or cowardly legion]]. The word also referred to the practice of tithing. However, it has been used since the 19th century to mean "destroy a large part of", no matter what proportion of a group was devastated. This is now by far the most common way the word is used, but [[http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1025 some still object to the loss of the original meaning]].
** Actors may complain their agents decimate their salary -- and would be technically correct!
** A BBC game show called ''Decimate'' aired in 2015 and used the word in the sense of "reduce by one tenth" (in this instance, reducing the prize fund by that proportion). It didn't result in a revival of that sense though, as just about the only praise, or in fact notice of any kind, that the show got was from the handful of pedants pleased that it used the word correctly.
* '''Demon''' is a catch-all term for any supernatural living being, with no implication of benevolence or malevolence. The term gained a negative connotation starting with the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible, and is now colloquially used to refer to evil spirits or fallen angels.
* '''Despot''' (Greek δεσπότης[[labelnote:romanization]]despótēs[[/labelnote]], meaning "master"; feminine: δέσποινα[[labelnote:romanization]]déspoina[[/labelnote]]) was a court title of the Byzantine empire, roughly meaning "lord." A despot was given control of a smaller region of the empire, called a despotate. It was only when American revolutionaries said that the British were ruling them as they would an imperial outpost that "despotism" and "despot" came to be pejorative. Despotism was also associated with ''absolute authority'' before it became associated with ''unjust authority''.
* '''Destiny''' was generally defined as an ''inevitable, unalterable'' future event. Language has shifted enough such that it is now more generally known, even in many dictionaries, as a generalized word for forthcoming events, making phrases such as "changing one's destiny" retroactively correct.
** '''Doom''' is another word for "destiny" or "fate". It doesn't have to be bad.
*** And '''Doomsday''' is referring to judgement, not to destruction. (See [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfNormandy William The Conquerer]]'s "Domesday Book", which was basically a census of his new realm.)
* '''Dictator''' was originally someone who wielded absolute power in AncientRome at the behest of the Senate in times of emergency, and his time in office was restricted to six months, until the next election; one may not have ''liked'' the particular dictator in question, but the office itself wasn't a bad thing compared to the emergency under which it arose (and in the Republic, the Romans did ''not'' like kings). Only when Caesar became dictator ''for life'' did some republicans begin to resent it, and even up to millennia later, in the 19th and early 20th centuries (when democratic ideals were still taking root in much of the Western world), it wasn't necessarily a bad title compared to, say, hereditary absolute monarchy. Essentially, the modern usage of the term focuses on the "taking power and ruling absolutely" part of the definition, ignoring the part about said rule being ''limited and temporary''.
* A '''dilapidated''' building or object is one in a state of disrepair because of age or neglect. A few pedants insist that only a ''stone'' building can be dilapidated as the word comes from the Latin ''lapis'', "stone". During TheDungAges especially folks would often take stones from old buildings to build or repair their walls.
* '''Dilemma''' involves a choice between two options, neither of which is desirable. A common misuse of this word is to refer to any difficult situation. Terms like '''trilemma''' and so on have been used for situations involving a choice between three options.
* '''Dimension''': A "dimension" is technically just a set of directions, of which we have three in space (up/down, left/right, and forward/back, relative to the observer). Above three, things get more theoretical, with time being one proposed fourth dimension, and others being extrapolations based on the first three (i.e., the fourth dimension being orthogonal to the first three). However, the word "dimension" is commonly used for an AlternateUniverse, in the sense of a place where the physical laws are entirely different from those in a place you could reach by traveling along another spatial dimension. See also: AnotherDimension. This is only ''very slightly'' less pedantic than "universe".
** It means rather something more similar to "degree of freedom". If a world has 9 dimensions, I can move a point in 18 independent directions; if a vector space has 9 dimensions, I can have 9 linear independent vectors. The problem with a word set is that cardinality of set is described by cardinal number (0, 1, 2, ... + various infinities) while there are branches of mathematics when you meet 2.5-dimensional objects.[[note]]And not in the sense of TwoAndAHalfD, mind you.[[/note]]
** This is actually a contraction for "another set of dimensions". That is, a location which has up/down, left/right and forward/back axes, but where those are entirely unrelated to the set of dimensions bearing those directional indicators commonly experienced. One could use "parallel universe" to mean the same thing (but see above). The implication is that physical laws are the same (which they need not be in a multiverse) but the spatial dimensions are unconnected to the ones we experience. A related phenomenon would be people referring to the first three dimensions as simply "the third dimension"; it implies the existence of the other two.
** The malapropism is sort of a half-understood thing. People that actually understand what they're writing about generally refer to other "planes of existence" that are displaced in some other dimension, which is related to the multiverse idea above but posits that other realities are simply displaced in a dimension we don't normally move along and can, in fact, interact.
* '''Due''' is an adjective, and needs a noun to modify. In the sentence "There is chaos due to misunderstandings," "due" modifies "chaos", not the whole clause "there is chaos". Thus, some of hyper-pedants would prefer that "due to" not be used in place of "because of".
* '''Eau Rouge''', strictly speaking, refers only to the fast left-hander at bottom of the hill at the famous Spa-Francochamps circuit. The equally famous right-hander at the top of the hill that immediately follows it that's sometimes also called Eau Rouge? [[{{Memes/Sports}} That's Raidillon, actually]]. The entire ''circuit'' has a mish-mash of confusing corner names, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3SR7ezGLmQ which the official Formula One YouTube helpfully has a primer on]].
* '''Ego'''[[note]]simply means "I" in Latin[[/note]], when used alongside terms like '''id''', is often assumed to be its opposite. In fact, according to UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud, the counterpart to "id" (basically, all your instincts and raw desires) is the '''superego''' (the critical, moral part of the mind). The "ego" acts as the mediator between the two, bringing RealLife into the mix. Crossword puzzles appear to be the most likely culprits here.
* '''Eke out'''. If Jane Austen says "the vicar ekes out a meager living by beekeeping", she doesn't mean he lives on nothing but the pittance that the bees bring him, she means the beekeeping supplements his inadequate stipend. ("Eke" is still occasionally used to mean "also".)
** A "nickname" was originally an "eke name", meaning an additional name.
* '''Electricity''' refers only to a "quantity of electricity", that is, an electric charge. It does not refer to anything which can take the adjective "electric", such as electromagnetic radiation (which is what most people mean when they say "electricity") electric energy, or electronics. It has gotten to the point where physicists no longer use the term "electricity" in scientific publications, because the colloquial usage is ambiguous, although they still use "electric" and "electrical" as adjectives (e.g.: that which we most commonly call "electricity," powering our light bulbs and computers and everything in between, is called "electric[al] current").
** In fact, the word "Electric" comes from the old Greek word for ''amber'', a homage to the fact that the first known way to generate elecricity was to rub amber on a woolen cloth. Eventually, people just adopted it as the word for electromagnetic radiation.
* An '''Epiphany''' technically means the manifestation of something supernatural (such as magic, gods, etc). The current meaning of "a sudden realization or flash of insight" is fairly modern, although most dictionaries accept it as a secondary definition.
** Somewhat surprisingly, the game ''VideoGame/{{Blood}}'' uses it the "right" way: the final level is called "The Hall Of Epiphanies" and is where you fight [[PhysicalGod Tchernobog.]]
* Most people think '''Epitome''' means the "perfect" example of something. Calling for example, a villain "the epitome of evil." It really just means a typical example of something, not the most extreme example. On a side note, it's pronounced "e''pit''-oa-mee", not "''e''pit-''oam''".
* '''Exception:''' For that matter, asking an official to "make an exception" for you is a misnomer because exceptions are already written into the law itself. However, the one enforcing it may make a '''derogation''' for you, and is sometimes legally empowered to do so.
* Strictly speaking '''extra''' means "outside of", not "on top of" or "more of it". This is why "extraordinary" makes sense. "Extralegal" means outside the realm of legality (''i.e.'' illegal), not something that is especially legal over and above the usual definition. "Extraterrestrial" (outside of Earth; from another planet) is probably most recognizable by the majority of people in its correct meaning thanks to Creator/StevenSpielberg's [[Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial film]].
* An '''extravaganza''' is a literary or musical work (often musical theatre) characterized by freedom of style and structure and usually containing elements of burlesque, pantomime, music hall and parody. It may more broadly refer to an elaborate, spectacular, and expensive theatrical production. It is not a party, however lavish the party may be.

* '''Fantastic''', most commonly used to mean "great" or "cool", literally means "the stuff of fantasy". Thus, [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Mordor]] is every bit as "fantastic" as Rivendell. Its change from original meaning to the current usage came about the same way as "incredible" and "unbelievable" came to mean something like "amazing". Interestingly enough, the Coolio song "Fantastic Voyage" uses the word in its classical sense, as do some of our SpeculativeFictionTropes.
** '''Fabulous''' ("the stuff of fables") is very similar, although nowadays its meaning has shifted ''again'' to have homoerotic undertones.
* People often use the terms '''First World''', '''Second World''' and '''Third World''' as though they refer specifically to levels of development. This is not quite correct. The terms were originally coined during the Cold War to describe the three main geopolitical alignments of the time -- that is to say, America and its allies (the First World), the Communist nations (the Second World) and those aligned with neither (the Third World). Admittedly, the Third World had from the very beginning connotations of low development and high poverty, whilst the eventual triumph of capitalism over communism as an economic system led to (generally) higher standards of living in the First World than in the Second World, but it should be remembered that these factors were coincidental, not definitive, and arguably, since the end of the Cold War, all three have become defunct, even though they're still used for more euphemistic equivalents of terms like GEDC and LEDC (Greater and Lesser Economically Developed Country, respectively).
** The first usage of the term '''Third World''' was a direct reference to the "third state" (''tiers état'') of France before the revolution, with the idea being that it was a group of countries that had no voice in international decisions concerning them. The author didn't coin the terms "First World" or "Second World" though, given that they would have made little sense in the analogy. (The staunchly antitheistic U.S.S.R. was the religious class?) As such, it does not refer to underdeveloped countries or countries with low standards of living, but states with limited geopolitical clout, and therefore states like Lithuania and Peru fill the bill, whilst Egypt and India do not.
** For the uncertain, the currently favored terminology is '''(Global) North''' and '''(Global) South''', with the South being the less-developed countries, and the North being the others. It's not a strict division along geographic lines: Australia and South Korea are firmly in the North, whilst China and North Korea are in the South.
* '''Football''', despite what some people say, is a perfectly legitimate name for American football, not just the international name for what Americans call '''soccer'''. Those sports are not called football because a ball is kicked around ''with'' the feet, but because they're played ''on foot'' (as opposed to, say, polo, which is played on horseback).
** To elaborate, in the 19th century, kids played their own versions of football however they felt like it. But soon after, there was a call in England for standardizing the rules of football, which of course led to lots of arguing. In the end the arguers settled on two games: rugby football and association football, which Americans call soccer. Not long after, other organized sports based on these two as well as others were formed (Australian Rules Football, American Football, Gaelic Football, ''etc''.--many of which are either derivatives or hybrids of rugby and association football) and all of these "football" sports have since gained a foothold in sports culture. Of course, since there are quite a few sports that claim the name football, many of these arguments continue on to this very day.
** It also should be mentioned that the British called it soccer first. ([[http://soccerlens.com/why-do-americans-call-it-soccer/3360/ No really, it's true.]])
* The original meaning of '''fornication''' is "to engage in consensual sexual acts with a person who is not your spouse". In modern usage, the term is often used to describe any form of sex deemed abhorrent by a religious group, such as adultery, homosexuality, bigamy, or various other actions viewed as taboo, something that can vary greatly among cultural lines.
* To '''frag''' someone originally meant [[UnfriendlyFire to kill someone on your own team]]. The term originated in the Vietnam War, where it was a term for unpopular soldiers being killed by their fellows (often with a fragmentation grenade, hence the name). The term was later picked up by the Deathmatch mode in ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'', where it popularized and shifted the definition over time towards "FirstPersonShooter jargon for a player kill".
* '''Frozen''' refers to a substance in the solid phase of matter. It does not have to do with cold temperatures. A rock is frozen, unless of course it is lava. Liquid nitrogen, on the other hand, is not frozen, despite the fact that it is cold. Freezing is the inverse process of melting, so dry ice is not frozen either. It is '''deposited''' carbon dioxide. Similarly, '''boiling''' just means that a substance in in the gaseous phase. Air is boiling, unless it is in a Dewar flask at cryogenic temperatures. Lava is not.[[note]]Nor is magma, which is what molten rock is called when it is underground. You probably knew that one, though.[[/note]] As boiling is the inverse process of condensation, neither is carbon dioxide. It is '''sublimated'''. '''Evaporation''' refers specifically to vaporization occurring below a substance's boiling point.
** The temperatures at which these changes happen are called "melting point" and "boiling point", regardless of which direction the phase change is going in. Water freezes at its melting point.
** In the original meaning of the term ''freeze'' meant to ''burn'' like burning coals. Technically anything that is frozen is burned either by fire, by the friction in wind, by chemicals or by cold.
* There is some debate regarding the origin of the word '''ghetto''', with one theory saying that it originated from the Venetian Ghetto. At one point in history, it referred the part of Venice where Jews were allowed to reside. It has expanded to mean any slum that is dominated by a single ethnic group. By the 1950s, the term was mostly used in the US to mean poor black neighborhoods. And, of course, the original ghettoes were what many Americans would call "suburbs" nowadays (as, indeed, they still are in Europe), whereas the typical American ghetto now is located in the "inner city."
** If you're interested: the word was first used in Venice, apparently about 1516. It may be short for ''borghetto'', a diminutive of ''borgo'' (related to English ''borough'' and German ''Burg'') meaning 'walled city'; but dictionaries say 'origin obscure'.
*** Incidentally Venice has a large segment -- separated from the bulk of the city by a wide channel -- with the suggestive name ''Giudecca'' because it was arguably the original Jewish quarter of the city (However, Jews were allowed to live in any area of the city before 1516). When it got fashionable among Venetian noble families to build their residence there, the Jews had to be relocated to the location of the present-day Ghetto, where a foundry the name probably came from (Venetian ''gheto''= slag) once stood.
* The meaning of the term '''gossip''' has shifted considerably over time, now generally meaning "Idle chatter or conversation involving unconfirmed news or rumors", or a person who habitually engages in the same. While it has somewhat judgmental connotations today, it was originally a fairly neutral term, meaning "A close friend or acquaintance". In fact, it started out as a corruption of the Old English term ''"godsibb"'', meaning "A family member to whom one is related in God" (e.g. "godmother" or "godfather").[[note]] The modern word "sibling" evolved similarly; it started out as a diminutive form of the Old English ''"sibb"'' or ''"sib"'' (meaning "family member"), indicating a family member who was younger than a parent or aunt or uncle.[[/note]] The meaning likely evolved when people began using the word to refer to the sort of friendly chitchat that one typically ''enjoys'' with close acquaintances, since "gossip" usually implies a greater degree of familiarity or intimacy than other forms of conversation.
* Ever since Creator/DashiellHammett used '''gunsel''' as a way of GettingCrapPastTheRadar, countless crime writers have used it to mean "gunman". Good luck with finding a [[IncrediblyLamePun straight]] use of the original meaning -- [[{{Uke}} a submissive male homosexual]] -- these days. And, for that matter, "hired gun" originally referred to any sort of criminal, not just an assassin, and the "gun" part came from the [[YiddishAsASecondLanguage Yiddish]] ''ganef'' ("thief"). Furthermore, "gun moll", a combination of the previous word and ''Molly'', [[IrishmanAndAJew the stereotypical name for an Irish woman]], originally meant not "lady with a gun", but "lady who hung out with thieves."
* '''Hierophants''' were priests in ancient Greece, and '''Cenobites''' were (and are) monks living in a monastic community. Nothing like the ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' folk, really. Or [[TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering the bio-augmented priests of the Machine Orthodoxy]]. We hope. And they most certainly aren't [[VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead undead flesh-eating mermen]]. In a modern example, the word Hierophant is used in its original context in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' and ''VideoGame/TacticsOgre''. You just don't want to get on the wrong end of said Hierophant...
** The Hierophant Arcana in Tarot was originally called the Pope. The Pope is a type of Hierophant, someone with religious authority.
* When the word was coined in the 1950s, a '''hippie''' was simply another word for "hipster" (and, less directly, "beatnik"): an "ethnic" white (typically Jewish or Italian-American) with a fondness for Black culture. Thanks to American sociopolitical prejudices, the word soon came to mean a bohemian and then a subversive of any sort, or even a Communist [[CulturePolice (the actual treatment of hippies in Communist countries should give the lie to this)]]. In the 1960s it was associated with sexual promiscuity and drug use, and opposition to UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar (the two groups did not necessarily overlap), and soon enough became a slur for any man with long and/or facial hair, whether he was a stereotypical hippie or not. Later, in the 1970s, as the environmentalist movement took off, a hippie came to be thought of as someone who wanted to "save the Earth", or more generally to turn the clock back to a "simpler" and more pastoral time (ironic, since the original definition suggested how ''modern'' American culture had become). Now "hippie" is often just a code word for "extreme left-winger", even though it's entirely possible to be a leftist and harbor conventional - or even puritanical - social mores (the Liberal party in nineteenth-century Britain supported prohibition of alcoholic beverages, and the UsefulNotes/StraightEdge subculture is a contemporary example).
* Being '''Hispanic''' and being Spanish aren't the same thing. Hispanic people are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Hispanics may be white, black, aboriginal (as in "Native American", not the original people of Australia), Asian, or any combination of the above. Spanish people (also known as Spaniards) are from Spain, and ''only'' Spain. People may confuse the two terms because [[{{Spexico}} Spanish culture has a huge influence on Hispanic culture]] and is the name of the language commonly spoken by those people in those places, and indeed because many of these regions used to be part of the Spanish Empire, but that's like calling people from the U.S. "English". Not helping the confusion is that Hispanic until recently also sometimes meant 'of Spain', from ''Hispānia'', the Roman name for what is now known as the Iberian Peninsula, which is in Europe, and includes Spain.\\
In truth, neither "Spanish" nor "Hispanic" have any better geographical accuracy (in fact the Iberian Peninsula, containing Portugal, part of France, and other places that are neither Spanish nor Hispanic as it is understood, is slightly worse) and the use of either of them is because of their connection to the Spanish Empire. This is likely a factor in why the term "Hispanic" is slowly going out of favor and being replaced by Latino (for males)/Latina (for females) and more country of origin-specific names (''e.g.'' Chicano [for males]/Chicana [for females] for Americans whose predecessors came from Mexico).
** To further confuse matters, on many job and education applications, it is explicitly stated that "Hispanics may be of any race." This sometimes leads to people in polls being counted both as Hispanic and as members of a particular race (usually white); and since only non-Hispanic whites tend to be counted as "white", this inconsistency leads to too many white people, causing the sum total of a poll to [[TooManyHalves add up to more than 100 percent]]. The problem could be solved by substituting "mestizo" (which ''is'' a race) or simply "some other race" or "two or more races" (which are often included ''in addition to'' "Hispanic") for "Hispanic", since [[LatinoIsBrown that is what the great majority of Hispanic-Americans tend to be]].
** It doesn't help that different U.S. government agencies use different definitions -- sometimes excluding Spanish people, sometimes not, sometimes including Brazilians and Portuguese, sometimes only Brazilians...
** It would be more accurate to say "Hispanic is what people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race, are called in the U.S.A." People in Latin America don't think of themselves as being "Hispanic" most of the time (again, that would be like Americans referring to themselves as "English", or even "European"), although they may acknowledge some degree of shared culture. The most common racial terms in Latin America are ''blanco'' (white), ''mestizo'' (mixed white and Indian), ''indio'' (Indian), ''mulato'' (mixed white and black), ''negro'' (black), and ''zambo'' (mixed black and Indian).
** Also, Latino does not refer only to Spanish speakers. It means someone from the Americas who speaks Latin based languages. For example, Brazilians are considered Latino despite having Portuguese as their main language.
* '''Holiday''' has come to mean "any recognized occasion of celebration with special significance", or ([[SeparatedByACommonLanguage if you're British]]) "any period of personal leisure". Originally, though, it specifically referred to days of celebration with ''religious'' significance, which were officially recognized as such by the Church. Hence the word's etymology: it's a corruption of "holy day", which itself came from the Old English ''"hāligdæg"''. Thus, while holidays like Christmas and Easter would fit the old definition, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July would not. And even many contemporary religious holidays can stretch the old definition when their secular significance ends up eclipsing their religious signicance: very few people seriously celebrate Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Saint Patrick's Day as the eve of All Saint's Day, the feast day of Saint Valentine, and the feast day of Saint Patrick, respectively. [[note]] Even Christmas and Easter aren't ''entirely'' religious in nature: many nonbelievers celebrate both holidays as secular festivals marking the beginning and end of Winter.[[/note]]
* The word '''Holocaust''' has a meaning that comes to mind whenever it is mentioned, [[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust and it's not a pleasant one.]] The original meaning in ancient Greek was "given as burnt offering" or "completely consumed by fire". (Fans of ''Film/ThePrincessBride'' may remember how a "holocaust cloak" enabled Fezzik to appear as a flaming demon without being harmed.) Modern Jews would actually much prefer the word Shoah (שואה), a word meaning "calamity" or "tragedy" in Hebrew), be used for Nazi genocide, as they justifiably consider it mass-murder, rather than sacrifice.
* '''Horny''' should only be used to refer to male sexual arousal, since of course an aroused female has no horn.
* The term '''ikemen''' (イケ面) is supposed to refer to charismatic men, good looking guys, or {{Hunk}}s. Because of the tendency to use the word as "attractive male", it's become an alternate term for {{Bishonen}} among Japanese youth.
* '''If''' does not mean the same thing as "whether". "Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you," means you should inquire about getting a prescription if you determine that you should.[[note]]For all you grammarians, yes, there should be a comma after "doctor", but that changes the typical reading of that sentence.[[/note]] Please, ask your doctor ''whether'' this drug is right for you. However, examples of this usage go all the way back to ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}''.

* The word '''ilk''' does not mean “class” or “kind”; it means “the same”. “[=MacDonald=] of that ilk” means “[=MacDonald=] of ditto” (i.e. “of clan [=MacDonald=]”).
* '''Immolate''' means '''sacrifice'''. When a monk lights himself on fire to protest a war, he is engaging in "self-immolation" because he is killing himself to make a point, ''not'' because he is setting himself on fire. The root meaning was to sprinkle ''meal'' on the victim, in preparation for a sacrifice. Dictionaries today show the fire-based definition as an acceptable secondary.
* The word '''Inferno''' has come to mean "a raging fire" over time, but it was originally just the Italian word for "Hell"--which is why it's the title of the first part of Dante Alighieri's ''Literature/TheDivineComedy''. You might think that it's a simple case of figurative language, since "inferno" obviously conjures up images of the classic FireAndBrimstoneHell that's long been entrenched in the popular imagination in the West; of course, if you've actually read ''The Divine Comedy'', you'll recall that Dante's vision of Hell didn't quite fit that mold (he depicts the deepest circle of Hell as a deathly cold realm where sinners are entombed in ''ice'', not fire). The Italian "inferno" actually derives from the Latin "infra", meaning "under" or "below", from which we get the words "infrastructure" (an underlying structure or framework) and "infrared" (describing forms of electromagnetic radiation of a lower frequency than the color red); a rather more accurate English translation would actually be "Underworld". "Inferno" may have come to be associated with fire because of its similarity to the Latin "fornax" (meaning "furnace", "kiln", or "oven"), or perhaps just because images of fire and brimstone became increasingly popular in artistic depictions of Hell around the Renaissance. Either way, the connotations of the word have stuck ever since.
* '''Innuendo''' is anything that hints at something without saying it out loud, not just restricted to sex. It is perfectly possible to talk about a "racist innuendo", for example.
* The '''Internet''' is simply the protocol that allows two computers to connect to each other, and has been around in one form or another since the 1960s. When people refer to "the Internet" they often mean "the World Wide Web", which is an information space which runs through the Internet, that allows computer users to visit, edit and create web pages stored on remote servers.
* When it comes to intelligence tests, people use expressions such as measuring '''IQ'''. But that's a bit like saying that you're measuring the miles per hour of a car. You're not measuring its miles per hour, you're measuring its ''speed'', and miles per hour is simply the unit. Likewise, IQ is a unit used to measure a person's ''g-factor'', the theoretical construct for intelligence.
** IQ is in and of itself an incorrect term (unless the work happens to take place in the early to mid 20th century); the proper modern term would be '''IQ score'''. "IQ" stands for Intelligence Quotient and was proposed by Stern as a number derived from dividing the age which the individual's knowledge was most common at by the age they actually were. While this score worked fine for children, it was hard to construct valid scores for adults. The modern "IQ tests" such as the Stanford-Binet actually just centralize the bell curve of scores at 100 with an approximate standard deviation of 15 (and since the scores are derived from statistics, this means that [[UsefulNotes/IQTesting extremely high IQ scores are often meaningless]]).
*** Meaningless, because the highest percentile bracket maxes out at 99.99%, and the people who score higher than any 9999 other takers could cover a broad range of IQ scores. Even more meaningless over time because subsequently tested population may adjust the distribution of scores, regardless of how the center of the curve may be maintained.
* '''Item''' is Latin for "as well as"; the fact that it ended up preceding each object in a list gave it its modern usage.
* A '''jigsaw''' is a motorised saw which can cut wood into non-standard shapes. A puzzle made using a jigsaw is called a "jigsaw ''puzzle''" (and even then, the "jigsaw" part is largely an ArtifactTitle nowadays).
* '''Just deserts''' is spelt with a single "s" and has nothing to do with what you eat after the main course - "desert" in this context means "what is deserved", though such usage is now extinct outside this particular idiom.
* The Japanese word '''{{kaiju}}''' (怪獣[[labelnote:hiragana]]かいじゅう[[/labelnote]]) simply means "mysterious beast", but popular culture in general and Franchise/{{Godzilla}} in particular have shifted the definition more towards "[[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever giant ultra-destructive monster]]" (which would more properly be called a ''Dai-Kaiju''.
* '''Knots''': The nautical term for ''speed'' is "knots", not "knots per hour" (the term for ''distance'' is "nautical miles", not "knots"). "Knots" refers to an arcane method of measuring speed by counting knots in a rope but has since become "one nautical mile per hour". "Knots per hour" is, however, a valid unit for acceleration.
* '''Koi''' is Japanese for "carp", and so calling them "koi carp" as many people do is a tautology.
* The original '''labyrinth''' (λαβύρινθος[[labelnote:romanization]]labúrinthos[[/labelnote]]) of Myth/GreekMythology was a very complex maze; hence the use of a thread to find the way out. But the term shifted to describe what began as an illustration of the myth: a figure consisting of a twisty but unbranched path, such as appears on the floor of many old churches.
* The '''Last Rites''' of the Roman Catholic Church is not ''just'' the anointing of the sick with oil. It's a sequence of three rituals: Penance (Confession), then Anointing of the Sick, then Eucharist (Communion); the last is also called ''Viaticum'', "provision for the journey". Additionally, the Anointing isn't limited to being administered to the dying, which is why it's called Anointing of the ''Sick'', not Anointing of the Dying.
* A '''Luddite''' was originally a follower of Ned Ludd[[note]]who didn't actually exist, but that's another story[[/note]], who destroyed a weaving machine that had taken his job. The original Luddites campaigned against the replacement of human labour by new technologies. Nowadays, the word "luddite" (often not capitalised) is used to mean anyone who is opposed to new technology for any reason.
* '''Lust''' can colloquially just mean "generic sexual desire", but its classical theological definition is "the vice of excessive sexual act". So, first of all, as a vice, it has to be habitual (''i.e.'' committing adultery on one occasion but never considering it before or after is technically not "lust", but still vicious and qualifies as a mortal sin according to the Catholic Church). Secondly, it needs to be excessive, so simply desiring to have sexual intercourse isn't lust, or even wrong; only if one continually and intentionally dwells on sexual thoughts or continually and intentionally performs sexual acts can it be called "lust". This is further complicated because there is another, more archaic and almost never used sense of the word "lust", which is "to treat human beings as tools without giving them the proper dignity they deserve as humans". This sense of the word "lust" would apply to a man who has intercourse with a popular woman in order to gain social status; one can think of it as being related in that his sexual drive is perverted (''i.e.'' misused) because he uses sex for something besides procreation.
* The word '''mad''' used to exclusively mean insane. However, the term "mad with anger" meant someone extremely angry, so angry that it resembled madness. Over time, mostly in North America, it evolved into just "mad", though those English speakers will still not be confused when it is used to mean crazy, chiefly from context. In addition, the word '''madness''' has always meant a state of insanity in all English dialects.
* The word '''man''', today taken to mean a male member of humanity, in the original Old English refered to any member of the human species , which today is filled by human. The different sexes were differentiated by the prefixes "wer" for males, becoming '''werman''', and "wyf" for females, becoming '''wyfman'''.
* '''-mancy''' is often used as a general-purpose suffix to mean magic of some specific kind. For one thing, it's often incorrectly used as "-omancy", inserting an extraneous O into words that don't have one (like "blahomancy" rather than "blahmancy"). This probably stems from one of its most common uses being in "necromancy", where some might not quite realize exactly where the suffix begins. In addition, however, [[http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-mancy "-mancy" specifically refers to divination]], not magic in general. A fantasy sorcerer who raises the dead is not technically performing necromancy. However, this technical misuse of the term has become nigh-omnipresent in contemporary vernacular.
** TabletopGame/UnknownArmies has a sidebar on this very subject, and puts forward '''-urgy''' (from Greek, "technique for working with") as the proper suffix for magical styles.
* '''Marquess of Queensberry Rules''' has generally become to mean "[[GroinAttack don't hit me in the balls!]]", when actually, the Rules were a long set of pugilism regulations, as seen in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquess_of_Queensberry_Rules the Other Wiki]]. One of the rules is indeed no GroinAttack, but other rules include the arena size, no wrestling and no use of spiked shoes, and so on. In fact, modern pro boxing bouts follow a majority of the Rules.
* '''Massive''', strictly speaking, refers to an object that's particularly large, heavy, or bulky, i.e. it has a lot of mass. (The scientific definition goes even further; something that has mass is massive). Common usage, however, tends to apply the term to anything with a large scale: massive failure, massive ego, etc.
* '''Matinée''' means "that which takes up the space of the ''morning''" (from the French ''matin'', "morning"). The current meaning (an event in the afternoon) was an ironic one used by American high society as a way of referring to how they always woke up late. Also, the original rule of thumb was that anytime before dinner--originally the midday meal--was considered morning, but as dinner became a nighttime meal, the Matinée followed.
** The word is currently used to refer to an event that usually occurs at night (such as a movie showing) instead happening in the the morning ''or'' (by extension) the early afternoon.
* '''Mayhem''' is commonly used to mean chaos and disorder, but the original, and legal, definition is the act of maiming. People misinterpreted the word from phrases like "violence and mayhem", and the definition stuck.
* A '''meme''' is a unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted between people through communication. The word was coined by UsefulNotes/RichardDawkins, and he gave examples of melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (such as religions[[note]]Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen argue that something as complex as a whole religion isn't just a single meme, but what they call a ''memeplex''[[/note]]), clothing fashion, and the technology of building arches. Therefore, while a funny picture such as Longcat is an example of a meme, the word meme does not mean just "a funny picture".
* '''Mental illness''' or '''mental disorder''' is a poorly defined catch-all concept that encompasses abnormal patterns that renders someone (whether the affected individual or others) disabled, distressed or at a disadvantage. This ranges from stuttering and insomnia, to depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), to more threatening and victimizing conditions such as pyromania and pedophilia.
** It is not interchangeable with '''insanity''', which legally refers to a condition in which a person cannot mentally comprehend or prevent himself or herself from committing a crime. Not all mental disorders render people insane.
* '''Meta-'''. Ever since metacrawler the prefix "meta-" has been used to denote an aggregation (like in metacritic) when it is supposed to be used to denote a definition or something that goes beyond the original intent, ''e.g.'' metaphysics goes beyond traditional physics, metadata is data that defines the data, metacrawler is a search engine that crawls the HTML Meta tags on websites that are supposed to be used for defining what content is on your page. If used properly, metacritic would be a site devoted to critiquing the critics or even be a site like Wiki/ThisVeryWiki, not an aggregation of critical reviews.
** The Greek prefix ''Meta-'' in fact simply means "after". It has its modern origins in the work of Andronicus of Rhodes to put the surviving works of Aristotle in a sensible order. Andronicus was able to sort most of it into categories like "Politics" and "Poetics", but found himself with some miscellaneous writings that were hard to categorise. Andronicus put them together and inserted them into the overall scheme after "Physics". He had a good reason for this because the writings seemed to resemble physics at a deeper level, giving rise to the modern meaning. All the same, "Metaphysics" means "after physics" simply because that's where Andronicus put it.
* A '''meteoroid''' is a solid object moving in interplanetary space, of a size considerably smaller than an asteroid and considerably larger than an atom. When a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it is moving so fast that it compresses the air before it to the point that it is heated enough to melt and give off light. The streak of light in the sky this produces is a '''meteor'''; the rock itself is never called a meteor. If this streak is very bright, it is called a '''fireball''' or '''bolide''' (colloquially a '''shooting star'''). The solid remnant which hits the ground (or sea) is a '''meteorite'''. Meteorites are actually still very cold after they hit the ground (having been floating around in very cold space for quite a long time). However, the impact with the ground and the transfer of energy melts some of the rock or earth on the Earth's surface; this molten material is knocked away and when it solidifies is called a '''tektite'''. An '''asteroid''' is a chunk of rock larger than a meteoroid, floating freely in space.
* Geographically speaking, the '''Midwest''' is not "all parts of the United States between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains", which is how the word is commonly used today. That's '''Middle America''' you're thinking of, that term being much more geographically accurate. "Midwest" means "the nearer part of the West" (as opposed to the "far west", the Mountain States); so, Great Lakes and Great Plains states. Nor are ''Middle America'' and FlyoverCountry necessarily the same thing. "Flyover country" is a very culturally-variable term (since it has the subjective meaning "places you fly over but would never visit"); for one person it might mean "any rural area", for another it might mean "anywhere but the metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts".
** Originally, the term “midwest” or “middle west” denoted the part of the US between the Appalachian Mountains and ''the Mississippi river''. In everyday usage, the term has now shifted to mean the Great Plains (between the Mississippi river and the Rocky Mountains); the former Midwest--states such as Ohio and Indiana--is now generally treated as part of the East.
* '''Mixed Company''' originally meant a group containing both men and women. Nowadays it usually means something more like "A group containing individuals who might be easily offended" most likely this is due to SocietyMarchesOn.
* '''Modern''' in history refers to the period after Middle Ages which is still on-going. So "modern" technically could mean anything from renaissance to some time in the future. In arts, modernism refers to the movement in the late 1800's and early 1900's, hence why we already have "postmodern" art, literally "after-modern". Obviously the common meaning is perfectly acceptable but if you do want to avoid it, words like "current" or "present" should work. "Contemporary" on the other hand has its own problems as mentioned in YouKeepUsingThatWord/ModeratelyPedantic.
* '''Molest''' formerly meant to simply annoy or to bother, but has since semantically shifted to become a synonym for sexual abuse. That said, '''Unmolested''' still usually means "unharmed", and is hardly ever used to mean "not sexually abused."
* '''Moot''' comes from the Old English word for a meeting, wherein important issues were discussed. A moot subject was one deserving serious debate, not something of little or no relevance. The current usage comes from a corruption of "mooted"; a "mooted" thing means something previously debated, ''i.e.'', a settled thing. This has been settled usage for so long, though, that even the law courts use it; lawyers and judges are famously pedantic, so this is no small thing.
* In [[Franchise/MarvelUniverse Marvel media,]] '''mutant''' refers to a member of the subspecies ''Homo sapiens superior'' ([[TaxonomicTermConfusion not]] ''Homo superior''; baseline humans and mutants can have fertile children), characterized by the emission of a specific brainwave and usually, but not always, innate superhuman powers and/or anatomical oddities. People who gain superhuman powers or anatomical quirks through an outside agency or event are '''mutates'''. [[ComicBook/XMen Sunfire]] is a mutant; [[ComicBook/FantasticFour the Human Torch]], despite his similar powers, is a member of ''Homo sapiens sapiens'' and a mutate.
* '''Mystic''' and '''mystical''' are not synonyms. "Mystic" means "of hidden or symbolic meaning, especially in religion". "Mystical" means "of mystics or mysticism". "The mystic crystal ball" is correct; "the mystical crystal ball" is not, unless the aforesaid crystal ball is used by mystics. Technically, "mystical" also means "having spiritual meaning, value, or symbolism", so the crystal ball could be called "mystical" if it had spiritual value.

* '''Nakama''' (仲間[[labelnote:hiragana]]なかま[[/labelnote]]) means "friend", "comrade" or "colleague" in Japanese. If you were to stop a random Japanese person on the street of Osaka and ask, "Could you define the word 'nakama' for me?", the response wouldn't be "a group of friends who are as close as family", or "a group of friends that are ''closer'' than family". On the contrary, the response would simply be "friend", with none of the deeper connotations that people here on Wiki/TVTropes have ascribed to it. (Or at least, did, before [[Administrivia/RenamedTropes the trope name was changed]].) This incorrect use of the term originated in ''Manga/OnePiece'' fandom, though even there, only a small percentage of the ''One Piece'' fans insist that the word means anything more than just "friends".
** Possibly because the Japanese language has another term that means "friend", 友達[[labelnote:hiragana]]ともだち[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]tomodachi[[/labelnote]], and [[SarcasmMode clearly English-speakers just can't understand having two words that mean the same thing.]]
*** 仲間 and 友達 are '''not''' synonymous. 友達 is closer to the English "friend", referring to someone you consider an equal who is close to you, who you play, talk, and hang out with. 仲間 is more like "comrade", referring to someone who works with you in doing something, or is part of the same group. The two words are contrasted with some frequency.
*** A Japanese person, asked to explain the difference, might say that 友達 is closer to 親友[[labelnote:hiragana]]しんゆう[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]shin'yū[[/labelnote]] (basically ''best'' friend) and 仲間 is closer to 同志[[labelnote:hiragana]]どうし[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]dōshi[[/labelnote]] (literally "same interests", and used as "comrade" by political ideologues like Marxists)—because practically every word in Japanese that's of native origin can be said in Sino-Japanese with slightly different connotations, much like how English can say both "Gallic manufacture" and "French handiwork".
* A '''nation''' is a collective group of people who share a racial or cultural identity. A '''state''' is a political entity that controls a geographical area. While the two often coincide, and are used as synonyms (since it became fashionable for the state to rule in the name of the people), there are plenty of places where they do not:
** [[{{UsefulNotes/Britain}} The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland]] is one state containing four nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The distinct ethnic groups hailing from each nation are ruled by a single political entity.
** Korea is a nation split into two adjoining states. Nowhere else in the world is there a homogeneous group of people so starkly divided by ideology.
** In {{UsefulNotes/Africa}}, the boundaries of nations and states rarely have anything to do with each other.
* When people hear the word '''nimrod''', they may think of a fool or lunkhead, but the word actually comes from a powerful figure in Literature/TheBible and Mesopotamian mythology. Nimrod was such a great hunter that his name became synonymous with hunters (The RAF even [[UsefulNotes/PlaneSpotting named a reconnaissance plane after him]]). However, when a popular ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short featured Bugs Bunny calling Elmer Fudd a "poor little Nimrod", children watching assumed that the word was an insult, and the interpretation stuck.
** It probably wasn't helped by the earlier ''WesternAnimation/FelixTheCat'' antagonist, named Nimrod, who was both a hunter and constantly made a fool of by Felix.
** It's not too far off though. Tradition says Nimrod became so full of himself that he began trying to replace God with himself, and started building the Tower of Babel to challenge him directly. To call that plan foolish would be an understatement.

* '''Oblivion''' technically means "the state of being forgotten about", and comes from the Latin ''oblivisci'', meaning "to forget". The use of the word to mean CessationOfExistence isn't wrong, although most dictionaries list the "being forgotten" definition first, as it's more consistent when the original etymology of the word.

* '''[Word]oholic''' is frequently misused to describe how you are addicted to [word] (such as being a self-proclaimed rageoholic if you are addicted to rage). If you are a rageoholic, you are addicted to '''[[PsychoSerum rageohol]]''', not rage.
** Homer Simpson actually uses this correctly, exclaiming "I'm a rageoholic! I just can't live without rageohol!", in the episode [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons "I am Furious (Yellow)"]].
* '''Orgy''' does not necessarily mean a ''sexual'' orgy. The word comes from ancient Greece, where an orgy was a secret nighttime cultic congregation overseen by an orgiophant (a teacher or revealer of secret rites), which was celebrated with dancing, drunkenness, singing, and other such things. Add those together, and sexual intercourse probably resulted from excessive booze and celebration. However, "orgy" can mean mass consumption of ''anything''; a popular non-sexual orgy is ''eating''. Some use the word "orgy" regarding violence.
* '''Orthodoxy''': While orthodox has taken on the meaning of "traditional", particularly in matters of faith, the term originally meant something more like "right opinion". The word literally derives from the Greek words ὀρθός[[labelnote:romanization]]orthos[[/labelnote]], meaning "right/correct", and δόξα[[labelnote:romanization]]doxa[[/labelnote]], meaning "opinion/to think/praise". Presumedly, the connotations of "traditional", "established", or "backwards" came relatively recently, as people who self-identify as "orthodox" also tend to reject more modern predilections towards reform and progressivism.
** Under the original definition, "political correctness" would be a type of orthodoxy (whether or not it is the norm in your area): there are certain beliefs that are deemed proper to hold about, say, women; and certain beliefs that are not. Indeed, Holocaust deniers are, under this sense of the word, unorthodox.

* '''Pathetic''' refers to something that provokes pity (sharing a root with words like "sympathy" and "pathos"). However, it is used more often to simply mean something is rubbish, with no connotation of pity.
** The original meaning is retained in the term '''Pathetic Fallacy''', which means ascribing feelings to an inanimate object, such as describing a stormy sky as "angry."
* '''PC''', used to refer to computers running Microsoft Windows, is an interesting case. PC is an initialism for "Personal Computer." In the literal sense of the term, this refers to any computer for use by a single person (as opposed to the room-sized computers which you accessed via a terminal), including such things as the Commodore 64 and yes, Apple computers. However, PC also refers to a specific computer architecture, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Personal_Computer IBM Personal Computer]] and its clones, for which Microsoft built its DOS and Windows operating systems, and became so dominant that "PC" became synonymous with "Windows computer", despite the fact that [[UsefulNotes/{{UNIX}} Linux and BSD]] are relatively popular on the platform. Notably, while current Apple computers are [=PCs=] in the latter sense, before 2006 they did actually have their own distinct architecture ([=PowerPC=]), and thus weren't [=PCs=].
** [[http://www.howtogeek.com/195224/macs-are-pcs-can-we-stop-pretending-they-arent/ As How-To Geek puts it]], "not all [=PCs=] are Macs, but all Macs are [=PCs=]".
* '''Pedantic''' originally came from ancient Greek, and was originally used to refer to someone (usually a slave) who led children to school. It then became known as an educator of children, making the words "teacher" and "pedant" synonymous for a short time. Eventually, it morphed into its current definition, someone obsessed with finding the smallest and most inconsequential details about various words and phrases, much like how a teacher would correct children in grammar school.
* '''Pedophilia''' is specifically a primary sexual attraction toward prepubescent children. According to the DSM-IV, it can be exclusive (the person is only attracted to children) or non-exclusive (the person is also attracted to adults or at least post-pubescent children), but it must have been acted on in some way - though not necessarily to the point of molesting a child - or it must cause the patient marked distress. Some people would prefer to define the term differently than this -- for example, in such a way that only the exclusive form counts. There are also a few who think the word should be "pedosexual", and they may have a point. (After all, do bibliophiles want to have sex with books?) But regardless of these details, on ''any'' reasonable definition:
** An artist who draws a child in a nonsexual context (for example) is not necessarily a pedophile, no matter what details are included.
** Someone who is primarily attracted to adults but has sex with prepubescent children is not a pedophile. Many child molesters don't have a particular attraction to children, but are simply exploiting a vulnerable warm body; analogous phenomena include prison rapes.
*** It is worth noting that in the typology of sexual offenders there are also people who are attracted to children due to their own heavy regression that renders them unable to relate to other adults. They are usually not categorized as pedophiles but as 'regressed child molesters'.
** Related to the above, there is no such thing as a "convicted pedophile". This isn't Orwell's [[Literature/NineteenEightyFour Oceania]]; one cannot be sent to prison simply for having certain thoughts. There is, by contrast, most certainly such a thing as a "convicted child molester". Even if such a person ''is'' a pedophile (not a given), they were not convicted merely for being one, but for some specific action they took as a result.
** A sexual preference for pubescent children (generally around 11-14 years of age) is not pedophilia, but hebephilia. "Prepubescent" is quite different from merely "under the legal age of consent".
*** One may see the term "ephebophilia" (sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19) used to make a similar distinction. Interestingly, while such a distinction is usually scoffed at in Internet discussion, it can have an enormous impact on the legal/psychological consideration of specific cases.
** The word "pederast" refers specifically to a man in a (usually sexually charged) relationship with an adolescent male. Though often incorrectly thought to be an uneducated corruption of "pedophile", "pederast" is actually the older of the two words. The difference is in the Greek root word used for "lover", ἐραστής[[labelnote:romanization]]erastēs[[/labelnote]] instead of φίλος[[labelnote:romanization]]philos[[/labelnote]]; the former refers to ἔρως[[labelnote:romanization]]erōs[[/labelnote]], or sexual desire, while the latter refers to φιλία[[labelnote:romanization]]philia[[/labelnote]], a more general kind of love. (The Ancient Greeks[[note]]at least according to Creator/CSLewis; this is debated by linguists[[/note]] had [[TheFourLoves four words for love]]: ἔρως, φιλία, στοργή[[labelnote:romanization]]storgē[[/labelnote]]--familial love, and ἀγάπη[[labelnote:romanization]]agapē[[/labelnote]]--divine love.)
* '''Peruse''' means to read something carefully and thoroughly, not to glance at something carelessly.
* The word '''perverted''' can refer to anything from child molestation to strange but harmless sexual fantasies, depending on whom you ask. However the definition of a pervert is someone who corrupts or misuses a person or thing; to say a person is perverted is closer to declaring them morally reprehensible than to saying they have a sexual disorder. The word originally referred to people opposing religious doctrine, and probably found its current (perverted?) usage in some churches' campaign against homosexuality.
** And speaking of perversions, the adjectival form of the word is '''perverse'''. "Perverted" would be a past-tense verb, ''e.g.'' "Jack underwent perversion yesterday. He was perverted. Jack is now perverse." The more broadly applicable "-ed" form may be due to that being more widely applicable to words that may lack a specific adjectival form. (Today, of course, this has become a mutation: generally speaking, "perverse" refers to non-sexual contexts--e.g. "perverse incentive"--while "perverted" refers to sexual ones.)
* Most '''plastic surgery''' is used to reconstruct parts of the body damaged in horrific accidents, such as severe burns. The beauty procedures which the phrase normally refers to should really be called '''cosmetic surgery''', which is just one type of plastic surgery. Moreover, some cosmetic techniques, such as Botox injections, do not actually qualify as plastic surgery under the formal definition. Finally, the "plastic" part of the phrase doesn't mean the substance plastic is used in the process, rather it is the somewhat dated adjective form of plastic meaning "malleable",as they are trying to "mold" the person's face or other parts into a new shape.
* '''Polarize''' means to cause something to acquire polarity; ''very'' polarizing is descriptive of a BrokenBase. It's not descriptive of a '''unanimous''' or '''unilateral''' opinion within a group of people. If something drives a wedge through group consensus and leaves them with opposing opinions, that's polarizing. If it leaves everyone with the same opinion, it's the opposite of polarizing.
* A '''Pony''' is not a young horse. That is a '''Foal'''. Instead, it's an adult horse that is bred to be small (shorter than 14½ hands or 58 inches).
* '''Proletarian''' originally meant "people whose only value to the state is [[WeHaveReserves producing offspring]]". In (Marxian) economics, it means "one who does not own the means of production but labors for one who does, while retaining political liberty". It does ''not'' mean "working class" or "blue-collar" -- most airline pilots are proletarians; many taxi drivers are not.
** [[http://www.lrb.co.uk/2012/01/11/slavoj-zizek/the-revolt-of-the-salaried-bourgeoisie Not even neo-Communist Slavoj Zizek knows the difference.]]
* '''Propaganda''' was once more-or-less synonymous with "advertising". Only in the last hundred or so years has it come to mean ''false'' advertising. It also suffers the "technically it's a plural" problem (see "data", above) - being a Latin phrase meaning "things to be spread".
* '''Psychotic''' is a word very often confused with "sociopathic"; in fact, one is a sub-class of the other. "Psychosis" is one of many mental disorders where a sufferer experiences a "loss of contact with reality". (The term is very broad, and can include mood disorders, depression, and various behavioral disorders. "Sociopathy" is a more specific ''type'' of psychosis where the sufferer is violent as a result.
* The idiom '''Pull oneself up by ones bootstraps''' is invariably used to mean something like "improve one's lot in life just by using one's own abilities." It originally meant something more like "do something blatantly impossible (or claim you did)", which makes more sense if you know what bootstraps are (for those who don't know, they are those little handles on some shoes that make them easier to put on, and you [[CaptainObvious can't just levitate off the ground by pulling on your own shoes]]). It may also be inspired by a story supposedly told by the (in)famous Baron Munchasen where he claimed to [[BlatantLies escape from a bog by pulling himself up by his ponytail]]). As such, people who use it unironically in it's modern meaning (usually as part of a HardWorkFallacy) are almost always CompletelyMissingThePoint.
* In physics, a '''quantum leap''' refers to a change that is not continuous (for example, a particle "leaps" from one energy level to another instantaneously). In common parlance, it is used to mean a groundbreaking development - perhaps under the misguided notion that the phrase refers to the "leap" forward that physics made when quantum mechanics was discovered. A more accurate phrase would be "paradigm shift".
* '''Republic''': a vague term supposed to mean a political system in which there is a large degree of participation and equality amongst the citizens. A republic is not necessarily a democracy (the ''demos'' not necessarily being coterminous with the citizenry, i.e. those with political rights), hence the distinction for "republican democracy", but a dictatorship is certainly not a republic whether it has hereditary rulers or not. Modern political philosophy -- such as the word of Phillip Pettit -- employs this older use. "'Republic' means not a monarchy'" is a case of people in the 1900s who kept using the word when it didn't mean quite what they thought it meant.
** A republic is essentially any political system that incorporates any caste-based electoral instrument, regardless on how widespread its use is. One good example is the (First) Republic of Poland called so since the 15th century, when the local councils of noblemen gained an important influence over the king (first a hereditary then an electoral monarch) and the royal court and were essentially ruling their respective lands.
** In the ancient Greek republics, often called "democracies", the voters were limited to male free citizens who had finished mandatory military service, thus excluding women, slaves, infirms (unfit for military service) and metics (free immigrants).
** The "satellite countries" aligned with the Soviet Union, or members of the Warsaw Pact, were technically republics (there were regular elections, and the countries were ruled by the same instruments of power as in any other republic) but these instruments were warped by ''e.g.'' fixing the local party-to-opposition ratio, so that the opposition could never overpower the USSR-backed party. This is why they are often called "façade republics" or "controlled republics".
** According to Creator/{{Cicero}}, one of the last consuls of UsefulNotes/TheRomanRepublic, a Republic was a combination of the three types of government identified by Creator/{{Aristotle}}: aristocracy (via the Senate), democracy (through the Legislative Assemblies and the veto-holding Tribunes), and monarchy (through the consuls).
** It certainly doesn't help matters that the original Latin term ''rēs publica'' is best literally translated as "the public thing," where ''rēs'' ("thing") can be [[BuffySpeak just as vague as it is in English]]. It also doesn't help matters that "dictator" was originally a legitimate office of the Roman republic in times of emergency with strict term limits. It wasn't until UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar made himself dictator "for perpetuity" that it gained traction as one way to say someone is PresidentForLife.
* A '''ring''' is round with a hollow center, but it does no good to point out boxing rings are square.[[note]]The name dates from an era when boxing matches were fought in a circle roughly drawn on the dirt; the modern boxing ring is sometimes called "the square circle" as an allusion to that.[[/note]]

* '''Sadism''' is deriving pleasure directly from [[{{Sadist}} inflicting suffering on others]]. It does not include deriving pleasure from actions in which suffering is inflicted but not the source of pleasure to the perpetrator. That's [[ComedicSociopathy schadenfreude]].
* '''Satellite''': A "satellite" is any object that orbits around a larger object, such as a planet. Most people think of satellites as the man-made pieces of technology that detect weather and spy on the Russians, but any natural chunk of space rock can be a satellite. Moons, of course, count too, as do planets which orbit a sun. Many people refer to their satellite dishes as simply "the satellite," leading some people to confuse the meaning of the word. This is why we now have the distinction between "natural satellite" and "artificial satellite".
** Incidentally, the word originally meant a (human) hanger-on, such as a courtier; Galileo applied it metaphorically to the things that scurry around Jupiter. The application of the word to the smaller members of the Warsaw Pact is perhaps truer to the original than the now-usual sense.
** The movie ''Film/AttackOfThe50FootWoman'' uses "satellite" to mean UFO. It was made around the time that ''Sputnik'' was launched, and the screenwriter apparently thought the word meant any object flying in space. This usage is common in 1950’s low-budget sci-fi movies.
* To culinary professionals, '''savory''' now means containing a particular taste sensation, also known as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami umami]], created by glutamic acid (popularly known as monosodium glutamate, or MSG). It can also mean any food which is particularly spiced or salted, as opposed to sweet. However, the original meaning was that still used by most people -- any particularly pleasing meal that makes the mouth water in anticipation. The modern meaning came about because glutamic acid creates a mouth-watering sensation after eating, similar to the anticipation.
* '''Sentient[=/=]Sapient''': To be sentient is to have the power of perception by the senses. To be sapient is to have or show "great wisdom or sound judgment," though it's often used to mean to simply possess human-like intelligence. These words are often used to mean things like simply ''being capable of'' intelligence or judgment or used to mean "self-aware", "conscious", or capable of subjective experience.
* '''Shoujo-ai''' (少女愛[[labelnote:hiragana]]しょうじょあい[[/labelnote]]) and '''Shounen-ai''' (少年愛[[labelnote:hiragana]]しょうねんあい[[/labelnote]]) are used in the West to mean same-sex romance between girls and boys, respectively, often less "intense" and sexual then actual yuri and yaoi. One had better not use those words in Japan, where they refer to [[PaedoHunt the love of children]]. Their English equivalents would be "girl love" and "boy love", which themselves shouldn't be confused with the GratuitousEnglish terms "girls' love" and "boys' love", which the Japanese use to refer to.... {{yuri}} and {{yaoi}}. Yes, this is quite the coincidence.
* '''Shrapnel''' refers to a very specific type of artillery shell: one that bursts open in flight to shower the target area with projectiles, invented by Major General Henry Shrapnel. A normal explosive produces fragments, not shrapnel.
* '''Sorcerer''' is a word which at its roots means '''caster of lots'''. It does not mean witchcraft or spellcasting. Furthermore, the practice of casting lots is ''praised'' in the ''ancient Hebrew'' Old Testament.
* To a mathematician, a '''sphere''' is just the outer surface of a three-dimensional, perfectly round shape. A ''solid'' three-dimensional, perfectly round shape is called a "ball". So billiard balls are balls, ping-pong balls are spheres, and most other sorts of ball, which are filled with air but have a fairly thick lining, are somewhere in between.
* '''Stoicism''' was originally a philosophy that held as a central tenet that extreme emotions should be overcome and prevented. It now means the repression of emotions, shorn of other parts of the philosophy. While someone who is stoical may be so because of an emotional disorder, it may just be a way of handling one particular occurrence.
** '''Cynicism''' for that matter, as often used in this website is actually less concerned with the contrast with idealism, and more to live life without falsehood (both in personal character, and by not chasing after things of false importance such as wealth, power, success, and fame). The classical Cynics were more like ascetics, living simply (much like the Stoics later would). The word means "dog-like" which to large portion fits, because dogs are known for doing certain things without any guilt or remorse.
--> ''There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies.''
* As defined by the man himself, '''SturgeonsLaw''' states that "Nothing is always absolutely so", that is to say that every rule has exceptions. The claim that ninety percent of everything is crud is more properly termed "Sturgeon's Revelation", but nobody ever cites it as that, not even Wiki/ThisVeryWiki.
** For that matter, most Internet adages, particularly FinaglesLaw (which is almost always confused for Murphy's Law) and PoesLaw, are often invoked with a subtly different meaning than originally intended.
* '''Subliminal''' simply means "below the threshold of sensation or consciousness", said of states supposed to exist but not strong enough to be recognized.
* '''Succulent''', because of its frequent use in the culinary arts, is often assumed by the layman to mean "tasty", when, in fact, it means "juicy". For example, milkweed is a very succulent plant, but eating it is not recommended. (Unless you're a monarch butterfly. And if you're reading this page, then you are not.[[note]]Unless you're [[SchroedingersButterfly just dreaming about reading the page]].[[/note]])
** There's even an entire botanical clade known as Succulent Plants. They are so named for their ability to retain water in arid conditions.
* '''Sycophant''' is an ancient Greek term for "informer" and "public accuser". They would expose the crimes of others to the authorities and be rewarded with a fee. By the 5th century BC, Creator/{{Aristophanes}}' comedies point to this having become a profession and practitioners caring little of the truth behind their accusations. Thus it gained the meaning (retained in Greek) of a false accuser, a slanderer. The English meanings of "flatterer", "bootlicker", are only loosely associated with the original meaning, by application to a hanger-on who curries favor with one person by denigrating others.
* '''TB''' does not stand for "tuberculosis", it stands for "tubercle bacillus", which is one name for the bacterium which causes tuberculosis.
* '''Thermos''' is a [[BrandNameTakeover brand name]] for what is properly called [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_flask a vacuum flask]]. It was invented about two decades before Thermos started marketing it, by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Dewar Sir James Dewar]], who unfortunately, refused to patent it. Most folks today use the brand name to describe ''any'' portable vacuum flask, or any similar device that keeps drinks cold.
* '''Transpire''' formerly meant "breathe", and still does in a scientific context. It has a legitimate second meaning, "to become known". It is now used to mean "happen", but some people react quite strongly to that usage.
* '''Tyrant''' in the original, ancient Greek meaning, was a single person who ruled over a city through usurpation (they took sovereignty by force, without right or permission). It was a value-neutral term, not a pejorative for an evil or oppressive ruler. Many ancient Greek tyrants were actually very well-liked (for instance Peisistratos of Athens). That said, the negative connotation of "tyrant" also comes from Ancient Greece: specifically Athens, where the term first showed up, when there was an "evil tyrant". It's been negative ever since. Strictly speaking, the meaning was "a ruler whose rule doesn't come from the state's laws" (''i.e.'' synonymous with "usurper"). As such, the name was often used to describe rulers appointed by foreign powers (like in the states conquered by the Persian Empire).

* '''Universe''': Technically speaking, the "universe" is the totality of everything that exists. If two "universes" are capable of interacting with one another, they're (strictly speaking) part of the ''same'' universe. This one is ''extremely'' pedantic, particularly if you have a [[TheMultiverse multiverse]] (itself not quite an oxymoron; that would be "multi-universe"). It turns out that [='=]'''U'''niverse' is for the entirety of everything, and [='=]'''u'''niverse' is for the big balls of space and time.
** This is a case of the word actually changing, at least within the realm of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brane_cosmology modern cosmology]], where the "universe" is our observable reality, and yet other universes with their own branes, time-space continua and physical laws are predicted to also exist. The conglomeration of ''absolutely everything'' is called, simply, '''The Bulk'''. But given that our own universe is [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale incomprehensibly]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXrXTx94aFg huge]], the need to ponder what is beyond it is rare.
** Omniverse is sometimes used to refer to "Universe".
*** Whereas within modern metaphysics, "world" is used for the totality of all existing things, and "universe" for universe as in cosmology. This becomes confusing for the uninitiated when talk of possible worlds -- ways the totality of stuff might, logically, have been -- is combined with talk of multiverse theory within physics as entirely reasonable statements like "Even if our universe is not actually part of a multiverse, there is a possible world close to this one in logical space in which our universe does exist as part of a multiverse" are a bit puzzling, especially for those who use "the world" and "Earth" interchangeably.
** In quantum physics, a "multiverse" is viewed as a multitude of "universes", of which we are one possibility. To us it's the only one. They're all real, but we can't ever communicate with might-have-beens or especially "have-beens" or "will-bes." So to a layman it's all the same. The theoretical or philosophical implications of quantum physics has never stopped people from applying it, though, as you can observe on the macroscopic level right now by reading this on a computer.
** The man who coined the word "multiverse", William James, said that if there was something beyond the universe, it wasn't the universe; it was one of a number of multiverses that were aspects of a greater universe; exactly the opposite of how the words are used now.
** This is a very old progression: by the very act of coming up with a term for "everything", you raise the question of whether there could be anything else. This also happened to φύσις[[labelnote:romanization]]phusis[[/labelnote]] (in Greek) and ''nātūra'' (in Latin), which, having been used to mean "everything" came to mean a more limited set of things. (Creator/CSLewis traces the process nicely in ''Studies in Words''.)
** If a universe we can't observe can be hypothesized, more than one could also be hypothesized. SpeculativeFiction illustrates alternatives to the observable universe, so "multiverse" and the plural "universes" would be appropriately used in this context.
** "Cosmos" is now sometimes used to mean "everything that is". Carl Sagan introduced his TV show ''{{Series/Cosmos}}'' with the words "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be." Some people have (mis-) interpreted this as an assertion that there is no God (since "all that is" is the universe). In fact, while Sagan was an atheist (or at least an agnostic), here he was just ''defining'' the term. By this definition, if there is a God or a Heaven (or, for that matter, alternate universes or timelines), then they are included in the single "Cosmos".

* '''Viking''' is not a demonym[[note]]a word that denotes an ethnic group[[/note]] but a name of profession. People most commonly described as such were in fact Norse or Norsemen (Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians). The word ''víking'' (it's the feminine form, by the way) means "journey" or "raid", so a ''víkingr'' (the masculine form) was a person who was taking part in mercantile voyages or raids. Prior to the ninth century it usually meant "seaman" or "merchant", but later it gravitated towards the rough part of the trade, meaning "pirate" or "raider". In other words, Norse craftsmen, workers or skalds were not vikings, even if they were capable warriors themselves.
* '''Vulgar''' technically means "common" or "ordinary". It came to mean rude or obscene because [[LowerClassLout "common" people are often stereotyped as having bad manners]].
** You can still see this in the mathematical term "vulgar fraction" - a fraction less than one, in which the top number is smaller than the bottom number, such as 1/2 - it's "ordinary because numbers smaller than one is what people mean when they say "fraction" informally (eg, when you say something costs "a fraction of the regular price", it means a lot less than the regular price). By contrast, a fraction greater than one, where the top is bigger than the bottom, is an "improper fraction", ie not the sort of number people would infer from just "fraction". This, despite that "vulgar" and "improper" have similar meanings when used outside the context of fractions.

* Originally, '''Waifu''' (and its SpearCounterpart term '''Husbando''') referred to a fictional character that a person loved obsessively, to the point [[PerverseSexualLust they would marry the character if given the chance]]. But because it's possible for any character to inspire that level of obsession, it eventually meant "character one loved the most", then eventually "favorite character" or plain "cute girl/boy", which coincided with the point where phrases like "seasonal waifu" (i.e. favorite character ''that season'') started being used and unintentionally brought up imagery of philandering or polyamory. The original definition would eventually be a subset term, such as specifying that a person has "only one waifu".

* '''Werewolf''' is a term that specifically applies to male members of humanity that turn into wolves, as the "were" part actually derives from the word "werman", an archaic word for a male human which was later shortened to "man" (and that's a whole other case). The correct term for a female that turns into a wolf is a '''wyfwolf''', from the term "wyfman", which was later shortened to "woman".
** On a related note: '''Lycanthrope''' specifically means werewolf (it comes from Ancient Greek and literally means "wolf person"). Some works erroneously use it to mean any were-creature. A better term to use would be ''werebeast'' or '''therianthrope''' (literally "beast person") if "werebeast" is too boring for you.
* '''Whence''', '''thence''', and '''hence''', mean, respectively, "from where", "from there", and "from here". Thus, using any of those words with the word "from" is redundant. They were ''sometimes'' used with "from", but mostly for emphasis, ''e.g.'' "''Where'' are you ''from''?" or "''There'' is where he's ''from''."
** However, the phrase "from whence" appears in the King James Bible.
*** This phenomenon, which also occurs in the Book of Common Prayer in forms such as the double plurals "seraphims" and "cherubims", is probably because of the translators' fears that the "correct" language would not be understood by the illiterate masses, and so various slightly odd turns of phrase emerge.
*** In case you were wondering, the potential singular and plural forms are as follows: one seraph/cherub; two seraphs/seraphim/seraphin/cherubs/cherubim/cherubin. "Seraphims" and "cherubims" are right out.
* The word '''willy-nilly''', universally understood today to mean "haphazardly" or "arbitrarily", originated as a contraction for "will ye or [[http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nill nill]] ye", roughly meaning "whether you like it or not".

* '''{{Yaoi}}''' is frequently used for all manga with gay male content. This isn't correct. '''{{Bara|Genre}}''' is the proper term for most manga written and read by gay men, though the most widespread term in Japan is '''Gei-comi'''. Yaoi is mostly written and read by women (although there are male yaoi writers, and female bara writers). Bara tends to have more ManlyGay characters, in contrast to the {{bishounen}} yaoi characters. Unlike Yaoi, Bara is usually pornographic, and doesn't have the Seme/Uke dynamic in Yaoi.
** The word itself once was an acronym meaning "No Climax, No Resolution, No Meaning", referring to the way these stories were written rather than just the content. Over the years it slowly morphed into a catch-all for any male/male works regardless of if they had any of the three. Nowadays, fans try to avert misusing the phrase by simply referring to said works as BL (short for "Boys Love", another popular term). In the West, Yaoi had become so prominent a word in media that talked about it that ''BL'' was the synonym rather than the other way around.
* '''Zombie''': This is a case where the continued wrong use of a word in popular culture has redefined the term. However, using the term "zombie" to describe any old reanimated corpse is technically wrong. Those which we call "zombies" today were usually called "vampires" in past centuries [[OurVampiresAreDifferent (before our image of the vampire took on its "bloodsucking" connotation)]]. Zombies are supposed to be bodies specifically animated and directed by a supernatural force (as in Voodoo, [[HollywoodVoodoo Hollywood]] or otherwise). Zombies don't even have to be ''dead'' or ''undead'', as drugged Haitian slaves might tell you. Similarly, '''ghouls''' are typically viewed as type of Undead, but in Arabic myth they are actually jinn believed to have been sired by [[{{Satan}} Iblis]], that dwelt in graveyards and other uninhabited places. '''Revenants'''[[note]]from the Latin ''reveniō, -īre'' = "come back"[[/note]] actually were undead, but they weren't typically held to be specifically brought back, they come back of their own accord, either for some [[UnfinishedBusiness specific purpose]] (such as to take revenge on their killer) or just to harass their families.
* [[http://mdfs.net/Info/Comp/Mouse/ccpm.gif Mouse, pointer, cursor]]. Modern operating systems themselves refer to the "pointer" as a "cursor," however, so the distinction seems to have eroded to a nub.
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to:

'''Many of !!Subpages:

[[index]]
* CommonlyMisusedWords/VeryPedantic (Original meaning is often forgotten, or
the "common" usages here have "wrong" meaning has also become accepted definitions of the words listed. Do not treat a definition as incorrect simply because it is listed here.'''
----
[[foldercontrol]]
[[folder: Least Pedantic]]
* '''Venomous''' and '''poisonous''' are not interchangeable, which is a common mistake in usage. ''Venomous'' means the subject has the ability to actively transmit poison. ''Poisonous'' means the subject transmits poison passively (ie. is eaten). Therefore, a poisonous frog means that it will poison those eating it, while a venomous snake means it will poison its victims by biting them and injecting toxins. As the mnemonic saying goes, "If it bites you and you die, it's venomous. If you bite it and you die, it's poisonous." [[note]]Similar issues happen in other languages -- for instance, in Spanish, ''venenoso'' (venomous) is very often used where ''ponzoñoso'' (poisonous) should be (although the opposite almost never happens), to the extent many assume both words are now synonyms, and that ''ponzoñoso'' is just an old word that is not used anymore.[[/note]] This means that, technically, if you are bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion, the
correct past tense is "I have been envenomed." This may be because most animal venoms are ''not'' harmful if swallowed...not that we'd recommend drinking it, since it can still enter the bloodstream through any cuts in the mouth.
* There is a famous (for a given value of "famous") poem by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, inventor of the "modern technique" of handgun combat:[softreturn]''A clip is not a magazine[softreturn]A mag is not a clip[softreturn]Neither is a grip a stock[softreturn]And "stock" does not mean "grip".[softreturn][softreturn]I do not mean to nitpick[softreturn]But improvement might be seen[softreturn]If we could bring ourselves to say[softreturn]Exactly what we mean.''
** A '''clip''' and a '''magazine''' are often used interchangeably, but military terminology is that a clip feeds a magazine (or the cylinder of a revolver) quickly; a magazine feeds into the weapon itself. A removable magazine is often referred to as a clip
-- even by military sources, however.
*** This was highlighted early in 2014 when a California state senator delivered a press conference tirade where he kept using "30 calibre clip" and "30 magazine clip" to characterize the supposed firing speed of a gun.
** A '''stock''' is the part of a rifle, shotgun, or occasionally SMG or pistol that is braced against the shoulder; a '''grip''' is the part that is actually, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin gripped]]—it's specifically the part of the gun that is held by the hand that pulls the trigger, and includes the trigger itself (though sometimes also used as a shortened form of "foregrip", the part of a long gun that is held by the off-hand to steady the weapon). The stock and grip are together part of the '''receiver''', the framework that holds the whole thing together (often called a '''frame''' on handguns).
*** To make things more confusing, in most classic rifles (i.e. non-automatic), a ''stock'' refers to the large wooden (or plastic) part all the metal parts (barrel, bolt and trigger assembly) are connected to. In this case, a part of stock behind the grip that is put against shooter's shoulder would be a 'butt'.
** A '''bullet''' is the metal slug fired from a gun. A '''cartridge''' or '''round''' is the unfired ammunition. A '''casing''' is the spent part of the cartridge ejected otherwise. Referring to unfired cartridges as bullets is a classic error. Similarly, '''shot''' is what's fired from a ''shotgun''. '''Shell''' can be both the unfired ammo and the spent casing.
*** To be extra confusing, old style cannon fired '''shot''' (solid projectiles) and '''shells''' (explosive projectiles). Explosive projectiles are still called shells.
** A '''barrel''' is the tube a bullet travels down when fired; before firing, the bullet sits (contained in a cartridge, see above) in a '''chamber'''. Revolvers have multiple chambers which rotate in a '''cylinder'''; other guns load their chambers (or "chamber rounds") from their magazines.
* For small arms, '''caliber''' means the width of the barrel at the narrowest point. "High caliber" is not, in fact, a way of saying "high power". E.g. A 7.62x39mm round fired from an AKM will not impart as much energy to a target as a 7.62x54mm round fired from a SVD Dragunov, nor will the 9x19mm Parabellum round impart as much energy as the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round.
** Another way to think of it is that a "high caliber bullet" will ''generally'' be fired from a bigger gun. However, caliber has nothing to do with strength ''by itself'' - if anything, the length of the cartridge (i.e. how much space there is in the casing for gunpowder behind the bullet) has more to do with the energy the bullet imparts on a target than the diameter of the bullet. If you're trying to say that a high caliber hand gun is more powerful than a low caliber rifle, chances are that you're ''wrong''. Unless you want to get into the specifics of grain count, rifling twist, bullet velocity and weight, you're better off assuming that handguns are less powerful than rifles.
*** To put it another way, "caliber" is absolutely not the same thing as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stopping_power#Energy_transfer "stopping power"]]. A small-caliber bullet fired from a high-powered rifle is a lot more likely to kill you than a large-caliber bullet fired at a much slower speed -- the latter bulldozes its way through the entire region via [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrostatic_shock hydrostatic shock]]; the former punctures its way through a narrow path. Kinetic energy is a function of the mass times the ''square'' of the speed.
** On the same subject, '''bore''' and '''caliber''' are not necessarily interchangeable. Traditionally for rifled weaponry, especially rifled artillery, "bore" denotes the number of turns in the number of calibers (i.e. how many times the width of the projectile down the barrel the projectile must travel to have one complete turn imparted on it by the rifling). So a rifled late Victorian artillery piece with one turn per 38 calibers is a 38 bore, but a smoothbore early Victorian cannon is a zero bore. To confuse matters further, in the UK the word "bore" is also used to mean the same as "gauge" in regards to shotguns: a measure of barrel diameter based upon the weight of a solid lead ball that will fit perfectly into the barrel, expressed as the denominator of a vulgar fraction of a pound if the numerator is one. Thus if the largest lead ball you can fit into the shotgun barrel weighs one twelfth of a pound, you have a 12-bore (or, in the US, 12-gauge) shotgun.
** To confuse matters, there are two separate meanings of the phrase "high-caliber," one of which means larger bullets, and the older of which means "fits the mold ideally." Therefore in other usage, higher caliber always means "better," but in guns it's just a straight technical term with no better/worse meaning.
** To confuse the situation even further, the term caliber is also used to indicate barrel length of artillery pieces, especially naval artillery. So when one refers to a 5"/ 38 caliber gun, one is referring to a gun with a barrel that is one caliber, or 5", internal diameter, and 38 calibers, or 190" long.
* '''Point-blank''' does not mean "at very close range". Point-blank refers to the maximum distance between a firearm and its target before one's aim needs to be adjusted for elevation. Of course, for field artillery or naval guns designed to launch shells in long parabolic arcs, that ''is'' quite a close range. For handguns or rifles, not so much.
* The word '''factoid''' is often used as if it meant "little fact" or "trivia," as in "here's a little factoid for you". It actually means "[[LittleKnownFacts something resembling a fact but with no evidence to support it]]"[[note]]"Factoids ... that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority." [N. Mailer, "Marilyn," 1973][[/note]], much like ''android'' is 'something that resembles a man'. Amusingly, this can often make the word more appropriate than the speaker's intention.
* '''[[RoyalBlood Royalty]]''' is not the same as '''[[BlueBlood nobility]]''' or '''gentry'''. Royalty is basically the nearest family of a ruler, while nobles are descendants of knights and landowners. There could be royal dukes and noble dukes. Gentry is somewhere between a subclass of nobility and a category of its own, as people in that class usually own land and are descended from well-established and well-connected families, but don't have hereditary titles or offices.
* '''Ironic''' doesn't (simply) mean "funny", "unexpected", "coincidental" or "cruel." See {{Irony}} for more on the subject, and IsntItIronic for more on the misuse.
** And on a similar note, '''cynicism''' isn't "sarcastic but more". Sarcasm is mocking, cynicism is jaded negativity.
*** And before '''cynicism''' got its current meaning, it was a Greek philosophy which taught that happiness is independence. From as much as possible - pleasures, law, other people...
* '''Impeach''' does not mean to remove someone from office. Impeachment is the process by which an individual is put on trial for unlawful activity. So Congress did not "''try'' to impeach" Bill Clinton, they did. He was not removed from office, though.
** In the legal context, it means to attack someone's credibility. At trial, both lawyers are trying to impeach the other's witnesses and it has nothing to do with elected office.
* '''Irregardless'''. While taken literally it could mean "not regardless", its usage is near-invariably as an erroneous synonym of "regardless." Linguists often refer to this fairly common phenomenon as "overnegation". In a case of ''actual'' irony, this is almost the exclusive purview of [[DelusionsOfEloquence people trying to sound more literate than they are, and achieving the exact opposite]]. In a case of ''further'' irony, you're vastly more likely to encounter this word in a style guide or as part of a joke than you are to ever hear anyone using it naïvely; we're calling out people who "don't know the language" by accusing them of using what was originally a non-word, even in a descriptivist sense. It is so common that the SAT has at least one question per writing section testing it. It is usually under the hardest questions, too. The Brothers Chaps lampooned this in their ''VideoGame/PeasantsQuest'' flash game by using the word "irredisregardless". The funny thing is, despite the word having no precedent, it's a triple negative, so it's technically correct.
* A '''Scientific Theory''' is [[GravityIsOnlyATheory not a guess, hypothesis, or conjecture.]] It's an established framework of one or more hypotheses with a significant body of evidence backing it. In other words, it's been "proven" to the extent it can be. If a model makes accurate predictions and is consistent with testing and/or observation it can eventually be called a theory, while the word hypothesis is reserved for an idea that you think might work but you haven't had the chance to rigorously test yet. As for why the word theory is used rather than, say, fact or law, this is simply a result of the general understanding that any theory may be incomplete or inaccurate. \\
\\
This doesn't mean we have any doubts about the validity of the theory itself, but that we may not know everything about it. Gravity is a good example, gravity is "only a theory". That is, our model of how gravity works may not be entirely correct; in fact we know it isn't, since our current theory does not incorporate quantum effects. That doesn't stop gravity from being real. Similarly evolution simply means change, and in the context of biology simply means change from one generation to the next in terms of genetic makeup. Our current theory of how species evolve through natural selection is a theory because the model may not be perfect, but the fact that organisms change from generation to generation is an observable fact. \\
\\
Incidentally, even in non-scientific usage the word '''theory''' did not always mean guess. If you look at how, say, Literature/SherlockHolmes would use the word theory, it would be a model explaining a crime, which is based on evidence, is testable, and has explanatory powers.
** It should be noted that this word is now subject to a misconception of the opposite sign, as a result of an overzealous response to the above mistake. The word "theory" does not imply that an idea is unproven, but neither does it imply that it is proven: it really doesn't say anything about the degree of confidence in it. For example, the theory of phlogiston is a thoroughly disproven scientific theory on combustion. It's still a theory, i.e. a system of ideas that aims to explain scientific phenomena on the basis of general principle - it's just that nobody believes in it any more.
** The core "essence" of a proper theory (and by extension hypothesis) is it has the property of ''falsifiability.'' This merely means that it's possible to construct a repeatable experiment to test ''if'' it's wrong. The actual outcome (proven correct or proven wrong) is irrelevant.
** As a further, a scientific '''law''' doesn't mean it's "more proven" than a theory. A law is (loosely) is something derived from a theory to cover a certain point. If your theory were "[[Series/{{Torchwood}} Jack Harkness]] is the sexiest creature in existence." then a one law might be "If you are in Jack Harkness' presence for more than 31.2 seconds, you ''will'' snog him." In more scientific the classic e=mc^2 is a law derived from the Theory of Relativity.
* The word '''Decimate''' is very frequently used a synonym of words like destroy, annihilate, or obliterate. Its actual definition is literally to destroy one tenth of something. [[note]]And being more pedantic, its a form of punishment used on Roman legions where legionaries draw straws and 1/10th are killed[[/note]]. The definition has loosened to mean, "kill a large percentage of" but it's still wrong to use it to mean "almost destroyed" or "completely destroyed" like some people do.
* The words '''racism''', '''prejudice''' and '''stereotype''' are often confused. Racism is defined as any policy or belief based in whole or in part on the pseudo-scientific theory that all humanity consists of biologically distinct races and that every member of each race has the distinct physical and/or behavioral characteristics of that race[[note]] Genetically, there are either tens of thousands of races or none, depending on whether you want to go for meaningful biological differences (none) or extremely minor ones (tens of thousands). The main problem with "racial" theory is that races aren't distinct, and not all the members of the supposed "races" have the characteristics they're supposed to have. [[/note]]. Prejudice means the belief that "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice a group of people [are] characterized by their race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion]]." Stereotypes, on the other hand, are "generalizations of existing characteristics that reduce complexity" (also copied from Wiki/TheOtherWiki). So, the belief of the USA's 'Southern' slave-owners that anyone who was not an Anglo-Saxon European was by default of an inferior race was racism, the belief of Anglo-Saxon settlers that the USA's Amerindian peoples were savages was prejudice, and the belief that all Canadians constantly say "eh" is a stereotype. Stereotype is a ''neutral term''; often when people use the term in a pejorative manner, it is to attack a ''lazy'' stereotype -- that is, a blanket statement that assumes homogeny among an entire spectrum of demographic.
** Similarly, people often use '''discrimination''' to mean negative treatment based on prejudice. In fact, discrimination simply means ''any'' differential treatment, regardless of what such differentiation is based on or whether such treatment is positive or negative. Which is why we have an article for PositiveDiscrimination. Discrimination can and is perfectly rational and justifiable in many situations: for instance, the practice of hiring the more qualified candidate for a job is a form of discrimination. Another example would be to discriminate between foods one likes and doesn't like (i.e. ordering the strawberry shortcake over the apple pie because you do not like cinnamon)--this last sort of "discrimination" is why "discriminating" is a compliment in dealing with matters of taste (e.g. the ''discriminating'' wine-drinker can tell the ''Grand Cru'' Bordeaux from the [[ATankardOfMooseUrine plonk]], and is considered to have Good Taste because he "discriminates" in favour of the former over the latter). You will often see this used correctly in military contexts. If armed forces are said to be indiscriminate, they have crossed the MoralEventHorizon.
** Finns have become really, really bad at misusing "racism" ("rasismi") in the past ten years or so. People talk about "age racism" or "fat racism" or god forbid, even "sex racism" because they think "racism" just means "discrimination". Part of this stems from the English loanword "rasismi" replacing the old, 100% Finnish word "rotusyrjintä" (literally "race discrimination"). Nobody in their right mind would use a term like "ikärotusyrjintä" ("age race discrimination"), but "ikärasismi", "age racism" is ridiculously popular.
** '''Bigotry''' is often generalized into discrimination of any kind. In actuality, [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bigotry bigotry]] is merely intolerance of beliefs other than one's own. Other factors, such as race, are not relevant to the designation.
* There appears to be a confusion about the words '''sexism''' and '''misogyny'''. Sexism is discrimination and stereotyping based on sex, and encompasses all forms of discrimination based on sex (indeed, even men who believe that women are inherently better than men, for example). '''Misogyny''' and '''misandry''' are hatred of women and men respectively. Some dictionaries have expanded this to include deep-seated prejudice against women or men respectively (so a womanizer who sees women only as sex objects would be a misogynist, despite his claims to love women).
* '''UsefulNotes/{{Feminism}}''' often gets misused for '''misandry'''. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men and nothing more. Unfortunately, due to a VocalMinority of feminists who tend to skew issues into an "us vs them" rhetoric, their advocacy for equality is often conflated with outright hatred for men.
* There is some confusion as to what a '''Justification''' is in the wiki's jargon, due to the everyday use of the term in Administrivia/JustifyingEdit. A JustifiedTrope ''does not'' require a Administrivia/JustifyingEdit. A trope is justified when the in-universe explanation for its use makes sense in context. A Administrivia/JustifyingEdit is just a fan of a work complaining that another editor [[FelonyMisdemeanor dared]] list that work under [[Administrivia/TropesAreTools a particular trope page]].
* '''Polygamy''' is "marriage of one person to more than one spouse" (to distinguish it from "group marriage"). It is not just a synonym for "polygyny", "marriage of a man to more than one wife". Most arguments brought up in response to "What's wrong with polygamy?" (e.g., "It oppresses women") are just irrelevant to "polyandry", "marriage of a woman to more than one husband". (And not just because "polyandrists do not exist", which is also factually incorrect.
language teachers.)
* A '''Battleship''' CommonlyMisusedWords/ModeratelyPedantic (Meaning is a combat vessel that relies primarily largely dependent on large caliber guns (11 inches context, or bigger) to do damage and is armored to withstand guns of equal power, if not greater power. It is not any ship meant to do battle, that would be a '''Warship'''. Nobody builds or uses battleships anymore[[note]]The last used were the American ''Iowa'' class[[/note]] (though several are preserved as museums) because missiles and aircraft carriers have rendered their construction uneconomical.
* While we're at it, a '''Cruise Ship''' and a '''Cruiser''' are very different types of ships. A cruiser is a medium-sized, long-range military vessel while a cruise ship is a passenger ship designed for pleasure cruises. Scifi writers screw this one up all the time [[SpaceIsAnOcean when naming spaceships,]] to the point that it's not unheard-of for one setting to use the terms both correctly and incorrectly.
* You can only ''truly'' '''plead the Fifth''' in a particularly bad court of HollywoodLaw. The correct phrase is to "TAKE the Fifth" (for those non-Americans unaffected by the EaglelandOsmosis: "The Fifth" is the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, one clause of which protects against self-incrimination; better known as [[ReadingYourRights "you have the right to remain silent"]]). Pleading in a criminal prosecution[[note]]In a civil action, pleading is "the pleadings": the plaintiff's complaint (i.e. "the defendant did this, and this, and this, and that's such-and-such tort/breach of contract/other issue) and the defendant's answer to that complaint (which usually consists of responding to the complaint point-by-point by saying "Admitted" or "Denied" but can also be quite complicated--the least complicated being the common "This is a conclusion of law requiring no response, but to the extent it alleges any fact it is denied.").[[/note]] requires a '''plea''', most often "not guilty" or "guilty". (There's also ''nolo contendere'', "no contest": "I didn't do it, but I will not fight the charges," usually done to avoid civil liability on the grounds of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_judicata res judicata/collateral estoppel]]--particularly when the criminal penalty is relatively light but the damages in a subsequent civil suit will be ''massive'' if the case goes against you.)
** While 'The Fifth' is not a plea, most courts will understand the statement "I plead the fifth" as a suspect explicitly invoking their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. According to the Supreme Court, while a suspect must explicitly invoke the right, "No ritualistic formula is necessary in order to invoke the privilege" ([[https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/349/155/ Quinn v. United States, 349 U. S. 155, 164 (1955)]]).
* Similarly (and technically), '''pleading insanity''' is shorthand used outside of court for pleading "not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect".
** Also worth noting is that one cannot be '''diagnosed''' as insane, because insanity is a legal concept, not a medical one. Even if a medical professional determines a person is mentally ill, a court must decide if that mental illness is legally relevant. In general, while having a mental illness or severe cognitive difficulty is an element of the court's decision, at the end of the day you are '''adjudicated''' insane, not diagnosed as such.[[note]]In the English-speaking countries, there are four standards for determining whether someone is legally insane. The oldest, called the ''M'Naghten'' rule after a case where the defendant believed the person he was shooting was Sir UsefulNotes/RobertPeel, articulates the rule that you (1) had a "mental disease or defect" such that (2) you either didn't understand what it was you were doing or didn't know that it was wrong. Some US states thought this too harsh, and changed the rule to be that (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect and (2) it created an "irresistible impulse" to perform the criminal act. In TheSixties, some US states ''still'' thought this was too harsh, so they said that if (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect and (2) that mental disease or defect "caused" you to commit the crime, you were insane. Finally, the authors of the Model Penal Code, an American attempt (mostly failed) at unifying the 50 states' criminal laws, thought that both the ''M'Naghten'' rule and the "irresistable impulse" rule made good points, sort of combined the two, stating that if (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect such that (2) you could not (a) understand what you were doing OR (b) that it was wrong OR (c) you could not "conform [your] conduct to the law", the defense would be applicable.[[/note]] Similarly, on the civil side, you can also be adjudicated legally incompetent to do any number of things (to sign a contract, to commit a tort, to make a will, to serve as trustee of a trust); although the standard for that is a lot lower--"incompetence" can include moderate senility, for example--it is possible to have some kind of mental illness or cognitive difficulty and still be deemed legally competent to handle one's own affairs.
** Similarly, '''insanity''' means someone being mentally ill or being extremely illogical/foolish. Most people use the pop culture version taken from ''VideoGame/FarCry3'' where a character states that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting things to change". While someone who is mentally ill can exhibit such a behavior, it is not what insanity is all about.
* The phrase "'''compare and contrast'''" is redundant. '''Contrasting''' involves comparing—contrasting is comparing only the differences, while '''comparing''' in the broader sense may also note similarities. This error in rampant in this very wiki.
* '''Exponentially''' means "increasing at a rate which is also increasing", not merely "increasing" and certainly not "a lot". Mathematically speaking, "exponentially more" refers only to the difference between the rates of increase of two functions, and has a much more specific
meaning than "this is growing faster than that"[[note]]The mathematical meaning of "exponentially more/less" is about the asymptotic complexity of a function equal to the difference between two functions. (More specifically, a function f(x) is said to be "exponentially greater" than another function g(x) if their difference (f(x) - g(x)) is a function that has the same asymptotic complexity as some function h(x) that grows exponentially with x. Another, probably more common definition is that their ratio (f(x)/g(x)) grows faster than any power of x. If one starts started to be pedantic, the latter is called super-polynomial, and most people insist on using ratios (2^x doesn't really grow faster than 2* 2^x)) This means that it's incorrect to say that something is "exponentially more/less" than something else when the two things being compared are just constant quantities, rather than quantities that increase as functions of some variable (such as time).[[/note]] Values that stay the same or increase at steady rate are not, by definition, "exponentially" ''anything''. Most people who say this mean "orders of magnitude greater". An "order of magnitude" is (usually) ten times[[note]]Mathematically speaking, an order of magnitude is a factor of whatever the base value is. Saying that it is "usually ten times" reflects the generic standard that most mathematics is done drift in base ten. An order of magnitude in binary, for example, would be a factor of 2, while an order of magnitude in hexadecimal would be a factor of 16, ''et cetera''.[[/note]], so more than one would be 100 times, 1000 times, or more. That said, a quantity that is ten times larger than its starting value after one year, 100 times larger after two years, and 1000 times larger after three, can be said to be growing "exponentially" as the relation between value N and time t is one of N=10^t or N≈44.7e^t.
* A '''quantum''' is a discrete unit of something. Therefore, when Film/JamesBond finds his Film/QuantumOfSolace, he doesn't feel that much better[[note]]Which was how it was meant in [[Literature/ForYourEyesOnly the original story]]. The idea was that when the last quantum of solace is removed from a relationship a man might do anything[[/note]]. A quantum ''leap'' is a change directly from one state to another, without any defined intermediate states happening along the way. The distance leaped over does not need to be the smallest possible. [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1554.html Some pedants have not quite grasped this]].
** To better describe, think of the word "quantity". When you have a quantity of something, i.e. a specific number of units of it, those units are ''quanta''. In physics, a quantum specifically means "the minimum amount of a physical entity involved in a physical interaction" (from Wiki/TheOtherWiki).
* '''Inflammable''' is not an antonym to '''flammable'''; it's a synonym. The antonym is '''non-flammable'''. (Granted, this is played for comedy more often than it's used seriously...
popular use.)
** The confusion here is mostly due to the fact * CommonlyMisusedWords/LessPedantic (Common errors that inflammable (derived from "inflame") doesn't come from the typical [in-] negation, it comes from [en-], to give or receive. "Flammable" is actually the newer word, created because people knew that this exact mistake would be made. It makes sense once you consider that the archaic ''enflame'' is similar to enrage do not match current definitions and enjoy.
** [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons "Inflammable means flammable? What a country!"]]
** [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 "Flammable! Or inflammable, forget which. Doesn't matter!"]]
** '''Creator/GeorgeCarlin''': "Flammable... inflammable... non-inflammable. Why
are there three of them? Either it flams or it doesn't!"
** [[VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing "It tries to set your face on fire, but you're inflammable."]] Wait, that means flammable. You're [[BuffySpeak "un-light-on-fire-able."]]
*** Of course, if someone ''did'' successfully light your face on fire, you'd suffer '''inflammation''', which is a physiological response to injury. So you'd be '''inflamed''' as well as inflammable.
* '''Mano a mano''' is a commonly used Spanish and Italian term that translate as "hand to hand," (which means the same thing as in English, but with a connotation of "evenly matched"). It '''does not''' means "man to man"[[note]]as two man on man kisses were described at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards[[/note]]. This is what is known in linguistics as a false friend. Sincerely saying that you want to settle things "mano a mano" before [[NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight pulling out a gun is an example.]]
** Although, technically in some countries people shorten the word "hermano" (brother) to just "mano". So it could also be "brother to brother" ("hermano" or "mano" has been used as an identifier even if the person in question is not a sibling at all.
considered wrong by most people.)
** Even worse is when someone says "mano y mano" which is hand and hand, making no sense in relation to fighting, and even less sense when they think they are saying "man and man". [[HoYay Unless...]]
* The word '''whom''' is used by many as simply "who, but fancier." "Whom" is a ''direct or indirect object'', so if you ever see someone use it otherwise ("Whom are you?" for example), they're futzing it up. As a general rule, replace the usage of "whom" with "them" (and, correspondingly, "who" with "they") and see if it still makes sense.
** "Whom" is used to describe people something happens ''to'', and "who" describes people who ''do'' something. You might ask about a proposed business deal, "Who affects the deal?" and "Whom does the deal affect?"
* "Wherefore", as in Shakespeare's ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', does not mean "where", but "why"; "wherefore" is to "therefore" as "what" is to "that". Juliet was not wondering where Romeo was, but rather wondering why the man she loved had to be Romeo, one of her family's hated rivals. (Juliet's whole thing in the balcony scene is a meditation on the meaninglessness of labels.)
* People have been told not to say "Me and Joe went to the park", but "Joe and I ...". For too many, this has morphed to a general anxiety around the word "me", so they always use '''and I'''. This is a mistake. "He saw Joe and I" is wrong (it should be "Joe and ''me''").
** "I" is when you are the subject, and "me" is when you're an object. This does not change if you are accompanied by someone else.
** First person singular pronouns always go after anything else when multiple subjects or objects are involved, so "I and ..." is never correct. (This is courtesy, not grammar.)
** If you have trouble knowing whether or not to say "I" or "me", [[https://youtu.be/N4vf8N6GpdM?t=67 take out the other person/thing/whatever and see if the sentence still makes sense]]. ("Joe and I went to the park" changes to "I went to the park", not "Me went to the park")
** This is only the case in formal English, however. In discourse, almost all speakers will accept "Me and Joe went to the park" as an informal but grammatical variant. "Me and Joe" is somewhat more common than "Joe and me", an interesting inversion of the above "first person last" rule.
** Similarly, "He saw Joe and I" is used consistently by some speakers of e.g. Northern Californian English. This is probably hypercorrection in avoiding "me" entirely, as noted above, which has been adopted into the dialect.
** People who have been told that ''and I'' is not a panacea will often abuse the word '''myself'''. This is a mistake as well. Myself is ''reflexive'' -- when you're both the subject and the object. "I wet myself", "I touch myself" and "I cut myself" are all okay (grammatically, that is). "Please send the memo to Joe and myself" is wrong. You mean "... to Joe and me."
** Settling this and the above immediate point of grammatical confusion: In all cases where you list any series of individuals, ending with "and I/me", the way you settle the "I vs. me" is to eliminate everyone else from the list and isolate the "I/me". For instance, "Joseph, Victoria, and I went to the amusement park and rode the Thunderstrike," is correct because "I went to the amusement park..." would also be correct. Similarly, "Grandma Robinson regularly sent Joseph, Victoria, and me $5 checks on our birthdays," is also correct because "Grandma Robinson regularly sent me..." would also be correct.
** Possessives can get awkward as well, such as the cringeworthy "Joe and I's apartment." If you absolutely cannot get away with "Me and Joe's apartment," and the context isn't clear enough to just say "Our apartment," then the correct formal phrasing would be "Joe's and my apartment" for the same reasons listed above: "Joe's apartment" and "My apartment" are both correct by themselves.
* Ah, '''passive''' is another great example. Passive is a ''voice'', not a ''tense''. Similarly, '''indicative''' and '''subjunctive''' are ''moods'', not tenses.
** Also, people tend to confuse progressive aspect with passive voice. "I was kicking the ball" is not in the passive voice. "The ball was kicked by me" is.
*** A quick and easy way to identify passive voice- can you add "by [whatever]" after the verb/is it already there? Thus, you get "His brains were eaten (by [[EverythingsDeaderWithZombies zombies]])"- passive voice, "Zombies were eating his brains (by zombies)"- not passive voice.
*** Well, the examples in [[http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html#11 Strunk and White]] are a little painful, but not as painful as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime movement to discard passives and all other uses of "be"]].
* A '''vaccine''' is a weakened form of a disease that trains the body how to fight that disease. As mentioned in MagicAntidote, though, people tend to simply replace it with the word "cure." A weakened form of the disease is ''not'' going to help you if you're undergoing the eleventh hour of the full-blown symptoms. It will just make things worse.
** A therapeutic use of a vaccine is most likely to actually be a '''sero-vaccine''', that is a mix between the '''vaccine''' and a '''serum''' containing antibodies against whatever ails the person being treated.
** Originally, "vaccine" specifically meant the ''smallpox'' vaccine. The ''vacc-'' prefix means "cow". It's derived directly from ''vaccinia'' — the cowpox virus — from which the inoculation was originally derived.
*** As an aside, the first person treated with Pasteur's anti-rabies vaccine very likely already had the rabies, the vaccine enabling him to fight the infection. (This is more of a quirk of rabies than anything, it has a very long incubation period meaning that you can vaccinate after exposure. The vaccine is still not a cure.)
* '''Bemused''' has nothing to do with being "amused" -- in fact it means "utterly confused."
** Similarly, '''Nonplussed''' does not mean "aloof" or "unimpressed". It means "bewildered".
*** Or "unperturbed". Non-reacting due to confusion, or just non-reacting.
* '''Slander''' and '''libel''' tend to be used interchangeably. Libel is defamation in the form of ''written'' words, while slander is defamation in the form of ''spoken'' words. '''Defamation''' is a catch-all that covers both. With the advent of the Internet and lower barriers to publishing, the definitions are changing, but libel is generally public postings and slander is generally private words.
** The distinction (in the UK at least) comes from the permanence of the defamatory statement. If I said it to someone in a restaurant it's slander. If it happened to be inadvertently recorded and put in a movie soundtrack or written in an article, it's libel.
*** A.P. Herbert took this to the length of parody in "The Lawyer's Dream", where a bench of judges are arguing interminably about whether an audio recording is libel or slander?
** Mentioned in the first ''Film/SpiderMan1'' movie, as follows:
--->'''Peter Parker:''' Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city... he was trying to save it. That's slander.\\
'''J. Jonah Jameson:''' It is not. I resent that. [[ITakeOffenseToThatLastOne Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.]]
** Also note for EaglelandOsmosis purposes that in all civil-law jurisdictions and many common-law ones (e.g. Virginia), slander and libel do not exist/have been merged and there is only "defamation" to cover injury arising from false statements, whether spoken or written. Also note that even in common-law jurisdictions that still respect the distinction, the only significant difference (in most jurisdictions) is in the proof needed for damages: with libel, all you need to show is "general" damages, i.e. put forward a good-faith estimate as to how much the damage to your reputation has cost you, but with slander, you need to prove "special" damages, i.e. need to point to at least one situation in which the injury to reputation had actually and directly harmed you (e.g. cost you a job) before you can collect anything (although if you can prove special damages, you can usually collect general damages as well).
* In {{Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game}}s, people often say, "Spell X has been '''casted'''" or "I have casted spell X". There is no word "casted". The word "cast" covers both present and past tenses. So both, "I will cast spell X on the monster" and "I have cast spell X on the monster" are the correct forms. The same conjugation is also used regardless of the specific thing or person being cast: Some sculptures are cast, actors are cast in movies.
* '''Puritanical''' means keeping "practicing or enforcing strict religious behavior." Its only tangentially related to anything sex related, and most certainly does not mean enforcing current laws about the age of consent (which in most countries is higher than the age specified in the dominant religion and derived from quite secular legislation). This does not stop more than a few pedophiles from calling such laws "puritanical."
* Another mistake frequently made in fantasy contexts is the conjugation of '''slay'''. As seen on acres of Disney World merchandise, "I slayed the dragon" is incorrect. "Slay" doesn't work like "play." Instead, it should be "I ''slew'' the dragon." Alternatively, "I ''have slain'' the dragon."
** {{Lampshaded}} in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', where Willow on one occasion had difficulty coming up with the right form. Giles, surprisingly, says either ''slew'' or ''slayed'' will do.
** You do not '''seen''' something. You ''saw'' it, or you ''have seen'' it, but you never '''seen''' it.
*** Most uses of the phrase "I seen it," especially those with enough emphasis to rule out a slurred "I've", are identifying the speaker as a hick.
* '''Inbreeding''' means [[KissingCousins breeding among]] [[BrotherSisterIncest closely related]] [[ParentalIncest individuals]]. Not breeding with members of another group or anything else. The confusion likely comes from the similar-sounding word "interbreeding." But ''in'' or ''intra'' refers to the inside and ''inter'' refers to the outside. [[note]]Other-word example: business between Los Angeles (in California) and Las Vegas (in Nevada) (e.g. an Angelino sells his 1964 Impala to someone in Vegas) is "interstate trade" or "interstate commerce". Business between Los Angeles and San Francisco (also in California) (same Angelino sells same car, but to someone in SF) is "intrastate trade" or "intrastate commerce".[[/note]] By the same token, '''interbreeding''' should not be used to mean marrying your sister.
* Similarly, a '''butler''' is the head of a large household of servants, dealing specifically with the wine cellars -- "butler" is, in fact, a corruption of "bottler". Because Jeeves is Bertie Wooster's only servant, his first job title would be "valet", although butlers may double as valets and vice versa.
** In one story, Jeeves' feelings are actually hurt when he is called on to buttle. That the normally unflappable "gentleman's gentleman" takes offense at something that seems trivial to us says that at one point it was a much more important distinction.
** Additionally, valet, when referring to a gentleman's servant, is always pronounced such that it rhymes with "pallet" or "mallet". Valet prounounced in the French style, such that it rhymes with "chalet", is an attendant who parks your car. In the United States, anyway. In the United Kingdom, they don't seem to make a distinction.
* While we're on the subject, '''claret'''--meaning a type of red Bordeaux wine and its associated colour--is pronounced to rhyme approximately with "merit". The word is a very old English borrowing, deriving from [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff medieval English nobles' love of a kind of dark rosé Bordeaux]] called ''clairet'', which the English eventually changed to "claret" as they began speaking English rather than French as a first language. They eventually began just calling any Bordeaux "claret," and when the preference of the English nobility (who [[UsefulNotes/NationalDrinks still love French wine, especially Bordeaux]]) shifted from a rosé to dark red, the name didn't change. Pronouncing it in the French manner is a hyperforeignism and frowned upon by the people who actually drink it. (You might be forgiven for your first offence if you're from a region or group that isn't familiar with the term--for instance, the same wine marketed as a "claret" in England will just be called a Bordeaux in America--but once you've been warned, you're on your own.)
* '''Interstellar''' means traveling between stars. Earth to Alpha Centauri is interstellar; Earth to Mars is interplanetary (and for heaven's sake not ''intergalactic''). ''Intrastellar'' travel would be travel within a star; ''transstellar'' would be across one; do not try either of these without serious heat shields or cooling tech unless you want to get fried to a crisp[[note]]You'll also get crushed; the sun masses c. 2 nonillion tons and averages half again as dense as water.[[/note]]. If you absolutely want to keep the ''stellar'' root for some reason, you might want to try ''circumstellar'' or ''parastellar'' on for size.
* To '''infer''' and to '''imply''' are different things. Person A may infer that Person B is stupid from the latter's misuse of words. Person A may then imply Person B's stupidity through witticism. Person B's inevitably incorrect response will be "Are you inferring that I'm stupid?" Person B is, in fact, inferring that Person A is implying that Person B is stupid, and they're right.
** The difference has been lampshaded by [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Lisa Simpson]] and [[Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit John Munch]]: "You infer. I imply."
** As annoying as this can be for anyone with an interest in logic or literature, the use of infer to mean "suggest" is in fact ''very'' old; John Dryden is just the most famous writer to have used it that way. The difference between "infer" and "imply" is very useful, but it's actually wishful thinking to claim that the words have always meant different things.
** {{Lampshaded}} and PlayedWith in ''Series/TheDresdenFiles'' TV series:
-->'''Harry''': [[OurDragonsAreDifferent These drakes]], right, they can change shape? They're magical, immortal and all that. But you can change your appearance and you're magical and [stutters] you've been around a long, long time.
-->'''Ancient Mai''': Are you inferring something?
-->'''Harry''': Technically, I'm implying. You're inferring.
-->'''Mai''': Well, it's dangerous either way.
-->'''Harry''': You didn't answer my question.
-->'''Mai''': You didn't ask one. Which, at least, shows some common sense.
** {{Lampshaded}} in ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' Series Two, Episode Three:
-->'''Hugh''': Just tell me, truthfully, did you send that email?
-->'''Terri''': No I didn't... and [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow you know I didn't.]]
-->'''Hugh''': Sorry, are you inferring...?
-->'''Terri''': Implying.
-->'''Hugh''': You're implying that... it was me?
** One of Adam Warren's ''ComicBook/DirtyPair'' short stories has this as its main plot.
** This mistake is one of the [[MinorFlawMajorBreakup minor flaws]] that bother Music/WeirdAlYankovic so much in "Close But No Cigar".
* '''Disinterested''' is ''not'' a synonym for '''uninterested'''; it means, rather, that you are unbiased or have no vested interest.
** Though it wouldn't be unreasonable to be uninterested because you are disinterested.
** A good judge is disinterested; a tough audience is uninterested.
*** Ironically, the earliest recorded use of "disinterested" is in the sense that now belongs to "uninterested".
* A '''light-year''' is a measure of distance: the distance light travels in a year. Many writers have [[UnitConfusion made the mistake]] of using the term to describe a very long period of time. This is the one mistake ''guaranteed'' to infuriate pedants.
** In ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'', the only trainer in the first Gym remarks, "You're light years away from beating Brock!" but then admits "Light years isn't time! It measures distance!" when beaten.
** Of course, often what a pedant interprets as literal but incorrect time could also be figurative and correct distance; a SufficientlyAdvancedAlien might well be light-years more advanced than us if you take it to be a metaphor using distance in place of quantity of technical and scientific knowledge.
*** In fact the construction "light-years ahead" is parallel to "miles ahead". Some pedants need to actually pay attention to the language they're using.
*** Literally, "to advance" is "to move forward", so if we define forward to be the direction of the alien planet, then it is most mechanically literal to interpret that as true, even if the aliens are using rocks. To interpret "advanced" as meaning the aliens have more sophisticated technology and comprehensive scientific knowledge is itself a figurative use of language.
** Of course, it's possible to get this both right [[http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/kw/stars-far-away and wrong at the same time]].
* Similar to "light year", '''parsec''' is short for "parallax second", but is also a measure of distance, not time: 3.3 light years.[[note]]The distance to an object from the Sun if it has a one second yearly wobble in its appearant position in the sky due to being viewed from ''the Earth at different positions in space'' (different sides of the Sun). Even the closest star is a bit further away, meaning its parallax is smaller than one second.[[/note]] "Second" in this case refers to "seconds of arc", ''i.e.'', 1/3600 of a degree = 1/21,600th of a full circle. The ''[[Franchise/StarWars Millennium Falcon]]'' was able to shave ''distance'' off a smuggling run.[[note]]Or, as some fans like to believe, Han Solo was simply talking rubbish. (The original script actually contains stage directions to this effect, i.e. "Obi-Wan reacts with skepticism to Han Solo's attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation"; unfortunately, WordOfGod says it didn't quite come through on-screen, due to some poorly-timed film cuts between Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford.[[/note]]
* '''Conspicuous''' means "obvious," not "suspicious," no matter the way it sounds. Thus, if something was conspicuously absent, you are merely able to notice that it was absent; you do not necessarily have to raise an eyebrow at its absence.
** This may come from a character saying that they need to remain "inconspicuous" while in disguise or something similar. The character wants it to not be obvious they are in a disguise and consequently not be suspicious. Since they can say, "I want to be inconspicuous," or, "I don't want to be suspicious," interchangeably in such a situation, this may be why people equate them.
** By itself, conspicuous may not mean suspicious, but in that particular context it is implied the same as saying something is remarkably or questionably absent.
* '''Fascism''' is a loose political ideology that combines nationalism, militarism, anti-socialism and conservatism ([[EnemyMine insofar as Fascists and Conservatives can both agree that socialism and liberalism are bad]]). It's also associated with [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness anti-conservatism]] (because unlike conservatives they look to the future and not to the past for their ideal end-goal society), futurism, corporatism (i.e. Country-Corporation co-operation), military expansionism, and Social Darwinism. It's not a synonym for authoritarian, since one can be oppressive without being fascist. Most modern people and political parties that don't self-identify as "fascist" probably aren't fascists. Definite no-no's include communists, socialists, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, liberals, libertarians, inter/anti-nationalists, pacifists, the USA's Republican and Democratic Parties, [[Creator/GeorgeOrwell Youth Hostels, Gandhi, women and dogs]]. To be more precise, even people showing antisemitic or xenophobic cannot be called "fascists" indiscriminately, as the original fascism introduced in Italy by Mussolini wasn't heavy on ethnic- or race- based xenophobia (fascists' aggression was usually directed towards their internal political enemies, chiefly the Catholic Trade Unions and Socialist Parties, while also strongly promoting Italian language and culture based nationalism). It was German National Socialism ("Nazism" or "Hitlerism") that introduced the ideas of racial superiority.
* '''Corporatism''' is the doctrine promoted by Mussolini that society should function as a body (Latin: ''corpus'') in which each of the various sectors of society (government, business, labor, etc.) are treated as "organs" within the body, interdependent and working toward the betterment of the whole. The term can include big business, but is broader than a simple collusion between business and government; "corporatism" has absolutely nothing to do with the English word "corporation."
** Relatedly, '''corporate personhood''' does not refer to letting companies vote or adopt children the way individual citizens can. It means a group of people ("a body") are treated as one person for administrative and certain legal purposes (particularly certain economic rights, including, most importantly, the right to enter into contracts and the right to sue and be sued). Perhaps ironically, "abolishing corporate personhood," if done without extremely fine precision, could ban labor unions, Indian tribes petitioning for reparations, and class-action lawsuits.
** And while we're at it, '''Corporation'''(public) and a '''Limited Liability Company'''(private) are two different things. Most people haven't even heard of the latter but their rights are the ones people often attribute "Corporate Personhood." To summarize, from a financial, and only financial, standpoint, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a person. This is because the whole reason [=LLCs=] even exist is so that a person can create a bufferzone between their business and their personal wealth. I.E. so no one can sue your local Mom and Pop coffee house for all their worth if their coffee ends up being too hot. Corporations do not have all of the same privileges that [=LLCs=]. For example a corporation can't discriminate on who it hires but an LLC ''can.'' On the other hand, [=LLC=] don't enjoy as many tax exemptions as corporations. From a legal perspective an LLC is person who enjoys the same, no more no less, privileges as an individual doing business.
* Strictly speaking, there is no single period in prehistory called '''[[OneMillionBC the Stone Age]]'''. The term originates from a listing of the three stages of a prehistoric society: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. In the most literal sense of the term, cowboys fought members of the Stone Age in the Wild Wild West; heck, there were still "Stone Age" people living in isolated parts of the world by the time ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' first went on air. The term is usually limited to Eurasian cultures, which complicates things.
** Strictly speaking, humanity as a whole had a single "Stone Age" (during which no sub-group had advanced beyond stone tools), after which the "Stone Age" becomes a term with more limited application, and terms such as "Bronze Age" began to apply as soon as one group use bronze for this purpose, even though they were the only ones. Likewise, the Stone Age would have begun with the first evidence of stone tools rather than the point at which stone tools become ubiquitous. Arguing otherwise would be akin to stating that we don't really live in the Space Age because most people alive right now have never ventured into space.
** Similarly, '''prehistoric''' does not necessarily mean ancient. "History" is "the study of what ancient people ''wrote'' about themselves," so for something to count as prehistoric, it merely has to predate the invention of writing (which was about 3500 BC). For this reason, there still exists a number of societies today which count as "prehistoric".
** Also, the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age were more a reference to the archaeology of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
* '''Yea''' is an an archaic version of "yes" (sometimes still used in very formal context where one is asked to vote "yea" or "nay"). It is not an alternative spelling of "yeah", and is pronounced differently.
** And cartoonists often confuse it with "Yay!", which sounds the same but is a different word, an interjection expressing delight or enthusiasm. ("Yay/Yea, we won the game!")
** This is very probably simple coincidence due to onomatopoeia. The real instance of this trope would be those who misinterpret the older usage as being the newer usage.
* '''Object''' (the noun acted on by the verb) and '''subject''' (the noun [[BuffySpeak doing the verbing]]) are opposites.
* People use the word '''vagina''' to describe both a woman's vulva (external genitalia) and vagina (internal genitalia). Even the author of ''The Vagina Monologues''.
** Just to avoid making a false equivalency, "vulva" describes the entire external genitalia of the female, while "vagina" is one element of the internal genitalia (which also include the uterus, ovaries, etc).
*** Explained [[http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2003/may/04/v_is_for/ here]].
** Similarly, people seem to use '''Anus''', '''Rectum''' and '''Colon''' interchangeably, when [[ArtisticLicenseBiology they are very different parts of the digestive system with very different functions]]. Look 'em up!
* '''Consequences'''. It's commonly used to mean the negative results of an action; the opposite of a reward or benefit. Its actual definition is ''all'' results of an action, positive ''and'' negative.
* '''Infamous''' is frequently used to mean "very famous," which is far from correct. While it is not the opposite of fame (that would be obscurity), it actually means "having a very bad reputation", as in "the infamous UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper." Don't make the mistake that the Film/ThreeAmigos did when you're asked to meet someone infamous.
** Confusion may also arise from: 1) Deliberately-ambiguous sarcastic use and/or 2) the Jerry Springer effect, i.e. "I want my 15 minutes no matter what I have to do to get it".
** As described above, '''Infamous''' is not an antonym of ''famous''. Just wanted to clear it out: if something is ''infamous'', it actually ''has'' to have at least some (evil) fame.
** It is interesting, because original meaning of this word, now mostly forgotten, meant something different. Infamy was a form of punishment technically stripping the convicted of any legal protection, in other words, [[{{Outlaw}} outlawry]] (in the feudal world 'no fame' meant 'no one heard of him and no one will defend him'). Of course, the infamous had nothing left to lose, so they often were getting infamous in modern sense of this word.
* For another nice self-referencing example, compare the definition of '''{{trope}}''' in any reputable dictionary to the one used on this site. (For the sake of pedantry, assume the other wiki is not reputable.)
** Merriam-Webster agrees with us!
** So does the OED!
* '''Good''' vs '''Well'''. Good is an adjective. Well is an adverb. You look good, because good is describing you. You see well, because well is describing how you see. (You can look well, but in that cause 'well' is being used as measure of health, i.e. the opposite of 'You look ill'.)
** You can also correctly use 'look well' for 'look carefully', or 'look skillfully'. Similarly, the above could correctly describe a product that as part of its function interprets visual data. (A robot or something; if it's solely a camera, then its working is synonymous with its looking, and so it's still incorrect.)
** In ''Series/ThirtyRock'', Tracy Jordan even corrected the resident Harvard grad in the first episode: "No, Superman does good. You do well."
* Some people, including many English teachers, insist that the statement '''I feel bad''' is only correct if it is used to mean that the speaker's sense of touch is functioning improperly, and the proper way to express that one is suffering is to say "I feel badly." This is totally incorrect, and in fact, the reverse is true: in the first case, "bad" is a predicate adjective modifying "I" and linked to it by the linking verb "feel," whereas in the second case, "badly" is an adverb modifying the action verb "feel," and describes how one's sense of touch is functioning. Likewise, the statement "I feel good" is a completely correct response to the question "How are you?", since "good" is, again, a predicate adjective modifying "I"; pedants who insist that one say "I feel well" are incorrect, although that statement is also grammatically correct.
** As a rule, "feel" (in the sense of feeling a certain way), "look" (in the sense of looking a certain way, not looking ''at'' something), "sound", "smell", "taste" and all forms of "to be" ''do not take adverbs'', for the reasons given above.
** Like "no split infinitives," this is another example of a Latin rule being shoehorned into English. In Latin and Romance languages, "good" and "bad" are defining characteristics, akin to "saintly" and "evil" - to say that one is feeling evil today is a far cry from being tired. Instead, "I feel well" or "I feel unwell" (or a more specific feeling) are the typical answers in those languages. In English those words do dual duty as vague placeholders and as strong characteristics.
** This is possibly the best single example on the page that exemplifies the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_language_processing natural language problem]], as well as why SesquipedalianLoquaciousness is sometimes quite justified. (i.e. "I feel bad." becoming "I feel less healthful." or "My epidermis is less sensate.") It's also how someone that WillNotTellALie can also be a ConsummateLiar through clever use of near synonyms, logical misdirection, etc.
* '''Literally''' is often used as a generic intensifier, a "smarter-sounding" substitute for "extremely" or similar. The irony is that the usage is most often figurative, when it ''actually'' means "not figuratively." Example of misuse: "It was literally a slaughter!" in reference to a sporting event, assuming said sport isn't a BloodSport. See LiteralMetaphor. Then there are the people who correct this by saying "You mean 'figuratively'," as in [[http://xkcd.com/725/ this]] ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}''. That's also incorrect, as the desired effect was to speak hyperbolically, and using the word "figuratively" completely removes that meaning; what they really mean to say is an intensifier like "totally".[[note]]Incidentally, this isn't the first time a word has shifted from meaning "not figuratively" to being used as an intensifier. "Very" (from "verily," meaning "true") and "really" also have their roots in words meant to distinguish factual truth from exaggeration. Perhaps in time the original meaning of "literally" will have also become so diluted by being used for emphasis that we'll have to come up with another word to take its place.[[/note]]
* '''Peruse''' means "to read thoroughly", not "to skim."
** [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/peruse The dictionary.com entry has an interesting usage note concerning this]].
* '''Scan''' has been similarly diluted in common usage, perhaps because computers scan things so quickly.
** In language teaching, both ''scan'' and ''skim'' refer to quick-reading techniques: ''scanning'' is quickly reading through a text to find a particular piece of information, whereas ''skimming'' means quickly reading through a text to catch the general gist.
* '''Incredulous''' means "not believing," not "incredible." If someone sees something incredible, then they can be incredulous.
** It helps to think of it this way: the base of the two words is 'credible' (meaning 'can be believed') and the negation prefix 'in'. If something is 'incredible', it is not believable, or unbelievable (similar to 'fantastical'. If you are being 'incredulous', you are being the opposite of credulous (which means 'easily believing'), not treating something with credulity, or you don't believe it.
** Another mnemonic: In general ''people'' are incredulous while ''things'' are incredible.
** In ''Film/TheAccidentalTourist'', it's pointed out that '''lacking credence''' is the proper use of the word.
* The difference between "rob" and "steal": You '''rob''' a person when you '''steal''' their property.
** Technically, robbery is defined more narrowly than this: it's taking someone's goods by threat of violence. But yes, it's never correct to say "My wallet got robbed" or "He robbed my wallet", but "I was robbed of my wallet" is correct.
*** If someone solely stole the money without stealing the wallet itself, one could argue that the wallet was robbed of its money. This would also apply if the victim were a self-aware wallet.
** "Burglary" is a different kind of theft from "Robbery". If you leave your wallet at home, and when you get back, discover that it was ''stolen'', you've been ''burgled''. Or "burglarized" if you're in the United States.
*** Legally speaking, burglary doesn't have to involve stealing (larceny and theft cover those). Burglary is the entrance of a building with the intent to commit a crime therein. You don't even have to actually complete the act you entered the building to do. If Alice enters Bob's house with the intent to murder Bob (or steal from him, assault him, or write a bad check while sitting on his couch), she has committed burglary, whether or not she actually does the deed. In some areas, [[{{Thoughtcrime}} even if you change your mind about committing the crime once you're inside,]] you can still be on the hook for burglary. As a result, burglary is a favorite of prosecutors as it can be added as a charge to many different acts. The case law of what constitutes "building" and "entry" can get a little silly.
* The term "Assault and Battery" exists because the two represent different parts of the same act. '''Assault''' is a a threat which suggests that "immediate harmful contact" will occur; '''battery''' occurs upon contact. Swinging a bat at somebody is assault. Hitting somebody with a bat is battery. Consequently, the latter usually depends on the former, except when the threat is unknown until contact. Generally, the contact doesn't have to be violent; the rule is that any unwelcome ''touching'' is battery (although as a practical matter you have to meet a certain threshold in order to get the authorities to prosecute). An unwanted pie in the face or kiss on the cheek constitutes assault and battery; thus some statutes on sexual assault actually call it "sexual battery" on the theory that you're punishing the touching, not the threat.
** Different jurisdictions have different definitions. Example: what the MPC and the above call "Battery" is called "Assault" in Delaware, and what the above calls "Assault" is named "Menacing".
** Bear in mind that both assault and battery are not only crimes, they are also civil torts in most [[UsefulNotes/TheCommonLaw common-law]] jurisdictions. This means that you can be prosecuted by the state and sued for damages by the victim for one act. Battery suits often address things that the state just lets slip; in one case frequently used in law schools (''Garratt v. Dailey''), an old woman successfully sued a five-year-old boy for $11,000 (in 1952 money!) after she got a hip fracture when he moved a chair she was trying to sit in.
* "'''Affect'''" and "'''effect'''": In ''general'' terms, "effect" is usually a noun and "affect" is usually a verb. However, there are actually ''five'' words there, not two.
** af-FECT (v) - To have influence on. "The heavy rains affected the water level."
** af-FECT (v) - To pretend, often to pretend to have a degree of sophistication. "At the wine club, Bob affected a fake French accent to be a douche."
*** This is also the base word of "affectation," or a behavior adopted to evoke that air of sophistication. "Even though Bob is from America, he crosses his 7s as an affectation."
** AF-fect (n) - Usually only used in psychology circles, and it's basically a term for an emotional response.
** Effect (n) - A consequence or result of something. "The effect of all the heavy rain was flooding."
** Effect (v) - To create a change. "Due to the flooding, the city effected changes in flood channel construction."
** The things you carry on your person (in your purse or pockets) are your "personal ''effects''"
* Off the northwestern coast of Europe are the '''British Isles''', a collection of two large and many small islands, the largest of which is '''(Great) Britain''' and the second largest of which is '''Ireland'''. Together they contain two countries: the '''United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland''' and '''Ireland''' (called the "Republic of Ireland" to differentiate it from the island, of which it covers about five-sixths.) The United Kingdom is a country composed of four constituent countries: '''Scotland''', '''Wales''', '''Northern Ireland''' and '''England'''. '''Cornwall''' is a politically united but culturally distinct area within England. There also exists the '''Isle of Man''', the '''Bailiwick of Guernsey''', and the '''Bailiwick of Jersey''', which are not part of the United Kingdom, but which have its Queen as their sovereign and which the UK provides for the military defence thereof. It is confusing but please, for your own safety, NEVER use ''England'' to refer to anything besides the land south of the River Tweed and east of the Rivers Vyrnwy and Tamar (Cornwall may be a more debated case but the Cornish will like you for it).
*** [[http://i.imgur.com/cuq3P.png Relevant.]]
*** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10 Also relevant]].
** The term "British Isles" is also disputed by many Irish people, who object to the term "British", given its usual usage as "of or pertaining to Great Britain". The governments of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland both avoid using the term, as do most Irish people, but it is a common term in Great Britain, where it is seen as an entirely neutral, geographic term, akin to "Indian Subcontinent" or "North America".
*** Well the British Government uses it, just not in international documents. The neutral term often used is '''Islands of the North Atlantic (IONA)'''. (This does, mind, include the islands of Faeroe, which are really quite un-British, being ruled by Denmark and speaking their own North Germanic language and all...)
*** Not to be confused with the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland.
*** At least in the travel industry, the "Indian Subcontinent" is now the "South Asian Subcontinent".
** Also, it's standard practice to refer the UK as "Britain", even though Northern Ireland is part of the former but not the latter.
** Also, a person from Scotland is "a Scot"; many people from Scotland are "Scots." You may describe their nationality and their institutions as "Scottish" (so it's perfectly to say "my friend is Scottish" in the same way that one would say "my friend is English"), but ''only'' in that sense.
*** 'Scottish' is an adjective qualifying someone or something from Scotland. 'Scot' is a noun. While it's preferable to refer to people from Scotland as "the Scots" rather than "the Scottish"[[note]]though historically, the Scots -- or the Scoti -- were from Scotia, which was in fact a Roman name for ''Ireland''[[/note]], it is not wrong to refer to someone as Scottish by way of an adjective. On that note, the adjective is indeed 'Scottish'. Don't use the adjective 'Scotch' outside of Scotch whisky, Scotch eggs or Scotch pies, at least not if you don't want to be [[https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/scotch#Verb scotched]] yourself.[[note]]However, at least as recently as Agatha Christie, "Scotch" and "Scotchman" were acceptable English idioms, no matter what the Scots themselves may have had to say about it.[[/note]]
*** And while we're at it, place-name adjectives like "Parisian" or "Viennese" do ''not'' simply mean "from Paris" or "from Vienna", but rather "typical or characteristic of the place in question". Thus, you can have a ''Viennese café'' in London (i.e. it embodies characteristics commonly associated with Vienna), but "Le Monde" is a "Paris newspaper" (i.e. a newspaper based in Paris).
** These rules similarly apply to people. Hugh Laurie was born in England, Ewan [=McGregor=] in Scotland, and Catherine Zeta Jones in Wales. All three are British[[note]]though both Welsh people and Scots generally prefer the more specific demonym[[/note]], but only Laurie is English. Pierce Brosnan is neither (he's Irish).
*** And just to make things more complicated--people from most of the British Isles wince at the expression [[IAmVeryBritish 'British accent']]. Usually because they know what foreigners mean by that, and resent the implication that's how they sound. 'English accent' is marginally better (not that people from much of England will take kindly to being told 'all British accents sound posh and educated to ''me''...', as they'll still feel that their existence is being denied and aren't always as pleased as you'd think to be told they sound 'classy', but it narrows the offence a little.)
** The '''Isle of Man''' is not part of England, Scotland or even the UK; it's a separate dependency of the British Crown. The '''Bailiwick of Jersey''' and the '''Bailiwick of Guernsey''' (known collectively as the Channel Islands) are the other two Crown Dependencies. ("Bailiwick" being an archaic term meaning the area under the jurisdiction of a bailiff -- a bailiff being a sheriff's appointee, so a bailiwick would have been a part of a shire). There are also 13 British overseas territories, and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (both on Cyprus).
** On that note, now you know where the idiomatic expression '''bailiwick''' got its meaning: it means an area specific to one's jurisdiction (department, profession, area of expertise): "not my bailiwick".
* '''Russia''' is a country (specifically, a federation of a number of states and republics) running from Finland to the Pacific Ocean, from Belarus to China, from Mongolia to the Arctic Ocean and immediately north of Kazakhstan. The '''Soviet Union''', or more formally, the '''Union of Soviet Socialist Republics''' is actually what it sounds like: a country, specifically a supranational federation of different republics with a federation government sitting in the capital of Moscow (at least in a constitutional and formal sense--like many large nations who used the same model, the actual distribution of authority is highly circumstantial and dependent on the period). They are not the same thing, but often times (particularly in, though not limited to, the West) it is convenient to make them interchangeable. Russia ''was'' one of the constituent republics, specifically, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, a founding republic of this federation state.
** This even confused foreign audiences at the time of the country's founding: "Soviet Russia" was founded in 1917 and 1918, with the collapse of the Petrograd-based Russian Provision Government (that came into power after the abdication of the Tsar) and the Petrograd Soviet moving the capital to Moscow, with the adding of "Soviet" to the name "Russian Republic." The "Soviet Union" was not founded until 1922, when said republic and five of its neighbors entered into a treat to become a supranational federation. Foreign observers were typically less familiar with the other states, and continued to use the name "Soviet Russia" commonly.
** This is particularly problematic when talking about geographic locations that were in the Soviet Union, but not in the largely-unchanged borders of Russia (for example, ''Series/{{Friends}}'' speaking of "the Russian City of Minsk" in regards to the capital of Belarus).
** Another common error is referring to pre-1992 Soviet organizations where a Russian counterpart did not exist, or was clearly not the subject: the ''Russian'' atomic bomb (when, obviously, nuclear weapons are controlled by the national government), the ''Russian'' Air Force (which might refer to the Russian contingent of aircraft in the republic-level Border Forces, but obviously is intended for the ''Soviet'' Air Force), the ''Russian'' Olympic athletes (referring to Russian athletes alone, but likely intended to reference the entire ''Soviet'' Olympic team). Mother ''Russia'' is a national personification predating the creation of the Soviet Union, the term used in literature or philosophical speech for the Soviet Union (where it most commonly appears in fiction) is Mother ''Homeland'', or the nonspecific ''Motherland''. Some other republics had their own national personifications in the same period (for example, Mother Armenia, whose statue was erected in 1950). Very few post-war monuments are, accordingly, of Mother Russia.
** In an inversion, most residents of the Soviet Union spoke Russian, as there were dozens of native Soviet languages and Russian was linguistically dominant. To say someone is speaking ''Soviet'' is nonspecific and oddly-worded, especially since when not a modifying adjective (in other words, alone) "Soviet" is a noun meaning "council."
* '''Immoral''' is knowing it's wrong and doing it anyway; '''amoral''' is, generally, not having a sense of right or wrong in the first place. Gravity and a large rock are amoral; my dropping a large rock on your head to kill you is immoral (unless, perhaps, I'm mentally disturbed in such a way that I'm incapable of making moral judgments). Furthermore, '''nonmoral''' deals with things that are not a question of morality, such as the choice between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. [[note]] Although it should be noted that [[FelonyMisdemeanor choosing vanilla over chocolate is a sign of pure, unmitigated evil.]] [[/note]]
* '''Non-zero-sum''' does not mean "win-win" or "opportunity to cooperate." It refers to some valuable resources (money, time, oil, wood, etc.) being permanently lost or gained during the event. A zero-sum game merely means that everything the participants begin with is redistributed. Non-zero-sum games can easily be lose-lose instead of win-win, and, while the Prisoner's Dilemma and a few other well-known non-zero-sum games are cooperative, others, such as the dollar auction, are normally non-cooperative.
** Whether something is win-win vs. lose-lose or cooperative vs non-cooperative is usually a function of the players' choices, not of the game itself. If the players in a dollar auction agree beforehand that only one person will bid, and that the profits will be shared equally, that is a cooperative/win-win strategy. Some games can be structured to always be lose-lose, but aren't as interesting to study.
*** If by "win" one means "end with more than one started" and by "lose" one means "end with less than one started", it is also ''not'' a requirement that someone ''must'' win and someone ''must'' lose in a zero-sum game; if everyone ends with ''exactly'' as much as each one respectively had at the start, it is still a zero-sum game.
** Also, usually game theorists do not use "zero sum game" but "constant sum game". That's partly for ease of mathematics behind it, but it also can mean that all players lose or win if compared to the status quo before the game. It is just that each win of one side is countered by a loss of equal amount on the other side (and let's not start about more-than-two-player games). Also in many to most games meta gaming (e.g. side payments outside of the game itself to counter asymmetric payouts in a win-win situation) is not considered, thus not every non-zero-sum means opportunity to collaborate.
* '''Stupid''' and '''ignorant''' are not interchangeable: a stupid person lacks intelligence, an ignorant person lacks knowledge. So, if someone crosses a street on a red light because they didn't know that red means "stop", they're ignorant. If they cross a street despite seeing a car coming at 50 mph and get hit, they're stupid.
** Lampshaded in the Simpsons episode "The Way We Was":
--> '''Homer:''' Wait a minute. That word you keep calling me?\\
'''Artie:''' Ignoramus?\\
'''Homer:''' Ignoramus! It means I'm stupid, doesn't it?\\
'''Artie:''' There is a difference between ignorance and stupidity.\\
'''Homer:''' Not to me there isn't, you... ignoramus!
** If someone misuses the words on this page, they're ignorant, but not necessarily stupid.
** "Ignorant" also does not mean "belligerent" or "impolite"
** Perhaps a better example of the difference between intelligence and knowledge: knowing what the Pythagorean theorem is and what it's used for takes knowledge; being able to work out the equation mentally requires intelligence.
** Once you've read the Pythagorean theorem, understanding what it means would require intelligence.
** If someone doesn't know that a tomato is a fruit, they're ignorant. If they know it's a fruit, so they put it in fruit salad (without knowing what they're doing),[[note]]You ''can'' create a tasty fruit salad with tomato in it, but it needs a special recipe and it exists in a neither-here-nor-there universe of being sweet and savory and neither at the same time.[[/note]] then they are stupid.
** Interestingly enough, '''idiot''' can be interchangeable with '''ignorant''' given its root in a Greek word for someone who does not take part in the affairs of his city, someone who ignores those affairs.
** You could also say that since no human is omniscient (as far as we know) everybody is ignorant about something. On the other hand, not everybody is stupid.
* On that note, '''stupid''' originally meant '''numbed''' or '''stunned''', hence the phrase "He was struck stupid." The sense lives on in the verb '''to stupefy'''.
* '''Omniscient''' means all knowing. It does not necessarily mean '''Divine''' or '''decides right from wrong.''' A lot of tropers seem to be misusing OmniscientMoralityLicense under the latter assumption.
* '''Née''' means "born". It does ''not'' mean "formerly known as" or "otherwise known as" or even "maiden name" except in the context that a woman's maiden name is generally her birth name. If a woman is born as Mary Smith, marries and changes her name to Mary Robinson, then divorces, remarries, and changes her name to Mary Jones, it would be correct to say "Mary Jones, née Smith"; it would ''not'' be correct to say "Mary Jones, née Robinson."
** Secondly, "née" is feminine. If a man changes his name, it's '''né''' (e.g. "Malcolm X, né Little").
** For transsexuals, as a general rule of thumb, you use the gender-specific words of the gender they identify as, rather than their genotype, if you are trying to be polite to them. So for example if you know a [=FtM=], it is "He" "Him" "né" etc.
* Similarly, French-derived adjectives should retain their French masculine-feminine endings. A woman with flaxen hair is '''blonde''', but a man is '''blond'''. More obscurely, and only in English, a man with dark hair is not a '''brunette''' but a '''brunet'''. It would all be pronounced the same in English, though, where articles don't have gender.
** In French, "brunette" carries the literal meaning of "little brown-/black-haired girl." A woman who is dark-haired is "brune", and a dark-haired man is "brun". The nouns, "une brune" and "un brun" can also be used, especially with adjectives ("une jolie[[note]]pretty[[/note]] brune"/"un beau[[note]]handsome[[/note]] brun"). "Blondinette" (blond-haired girl) is an endearment. There is no male equivalent for "brunette".
** Also, when one is engaged to be married, the proper word depends on the person's gender: a man is a '''fiancé''', whereas a woman is a '''fiancée'''. As with other French-derived terms, they may be pronounced exactly the same, but their gender matters.
** Another place where people often drop the gender declension in English is for words like aviator. Saying "female aviator" is incorrect, the term is "aviatrix."[[note]]Though it's perhaps better, if the pilot's genitalia aren't relevant, to stick with "pilot".[[/note]] Same with "male dominatrix." It's just "dominator."
* People keep using '''pragmatic''' to describe someone who appears to be thinking quite ideally, or something along the lines of that. This is used frequently to describe politicians during political campaigns. The word means "of or pertaining to a practical point of view or practical considerations." In a related sense, '''pragmatism''' is a "character or conduct that emphasizes practicality." So depending on the case, one may be correct or not.
* If you're '''waiting on''' someone, then you're performing the job of a waiter or servant. If you're looking at your watch wondering where the hell they are, you're waiting ''for'' them.
** [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage Dialect difference]]. Like how people from parts of the eastern US--especially New York City--say "on line for tickets" instead of "in line for tickets". Slight differences between preposition use are a common dialect variation, especially in Germanic languages (anyone who took high-school German probably read that word "preposition" and began to weep softly, like a ShellShockedVeteran).
*** Trust me, we Germans aren't happy with English prepositions either.
* A '''narcotic''' is any sedative defined as drug with morphine-like effects (to quote Wiki/TheOtherWiki). Most people use it as an umbrella term to include all illicit drugs.
** The term was corrupted as soon as the ''stimulant'' cocaine was classified as a narcotic in US federal law (the original Harrison Narcotics Act was written to deal with opium trafficking), so for legal purposes it is - despite being a stimulant.
* '''Argumentum ad hominem''' is (to quote Wiki/TheOtherWiki) [[LogicalFallacies "an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise."]] It's not just a fancy word for a personal attack. "You suck, therefore your argument is false" is ''ad hominem''. "You suck" on its own isn't, neither is "your argument is false, therefore you suck,"[[note]]which, thanks to how implication works, means that the person could still suck even if their argument is true[[/note]] nor is "Your argument is false and you suck." It's certainly rude, but not fallacious.
** In many cases, the "therefore your argument is false" part is left implied. The intent is still to discredit the advocate rather than (probably more difficult) rebuttal of the premise; that the link is not explicitly stated doesn't necessarily mean it isn't ad hominem - if the attack is trying to bring down the premise, it is. If the person being attacked is not advocating anything, though (or if anything they might be advocating has nothing to do with the attack), it isn't ad hominem - just a personal attack.
* '''Semitic''' doesn't necessarily mean Jewish. It means of Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, and/or Phoenician ancestry.[[note]]By the process of history, most Phoenicians, Akkadians, and Aramaeans have been mixed so much with Arabs -- to the point that nearly all of them have Arabic as a first language and many if not most of them consider themselves ethnically Arab -- that they're hardly worth mentioning today.[[/note]] On the other hand, the terms '''anti-Semitic''', '''anti-Semitism''', and '''anti-Semite''' typically only refer to hatred of Jews; these words were coined in 19th century Europe, during the era of "scientific racism" which claimed that all apparent religious and cultural conflicts of Jews and (Christian) Europeans were actually born of conflict between Semitic and "Aryan" races,[[note]]See also Woodrow Wilson's brilliant idea that Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks should have one country because they're all the same race and thus won't have any conflict. In fairness to him, many Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks actually had the same idea at the time; they figured their commonality of language (their languages are completely mutually intelligible and were at the time argued to be dialects of one language) was more important than their religious differences.[[/note]] and the terminology has stuck ever since.
** Contrast with the lesser-known word '''anti-Judaism''', which refers specifically to opposition to the Jewish religion, and not to Jews as a nation, race, tribe, or ethnicity. Then there is '''anti-Zionism''', which specifically refers to opposition to the ''political'' nation-state of Israel and[=/=]or Jewish Nationalism in general (some of the most vocal anti-Zionists are Haredi ''Jews'', [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikrikim some of whom]] have committed violence in the name of their position).
*** Both anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism can, of course, be covers for anti-Semitism. Even without deliberate dishonesty, the three tend to shade into each other, especially given how tightly interwoven Jewish religion and nationalism are to the rest of Jewish identity (it's similarly difficult to distinguish opposition to Hinduism from opposition to Indian nationalism or hatred of Indians).
* '''Populist''' has done a complete turnaround of meaning since the 1890s. Political scientist David Nolan once used it as roughly a synonym for ''socialist''. Actually, while the Populist (or People's) Party of the 1890s that thrived in much of the western and southern United States was more anti-"big business" than anti-business generally, it did call for some reforms that are usually thought of as socialistic (such as the nationalization of particularly lucrative industries). Nowadays, the word has been shorn of almost all economic connotations. To be a ''populist'' is to bear resentment against society's elites, who need not necessarily be "the rich." Class is still a factor to some extent, but differing educational levels and the contentious nature of American popular culture also enter into the equation.
** The broadest definition of populism is opposition to the elite, whatever "elite" may mean at the moment. As such, it's perfectly correct to use it for the political movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, marked for their socialist tendancies and dismantling of corporate giants, as it is to use it for the current anti-intellectualist bent in the American social and political landscape.
*** Populist is not about opposition to the elite but about favouring and aiming efforts at the greater populace. To be a populist is to promote oneself to be liked by the majority, the non-elite, if they happen to like the elite it would be populist not to go against the elite...
*** To complicate matters further, ''populist'' may also refer to politicians who aim their efforts on any majority, thus changing sides and agendas to maximize their support, not to represent any group in particulat. It is more or less political equivalent to 'opportunist'.
* '''Objective''' (as in the opposite of '''Subjective'''), especially when used with the word '''review''' (as in a ''critical review''). There is no such thing as an '''objective review'''. A review, by definition, is subjective. A ''consensus'' may be derived from many reviews, but there will never be a definitive, objective review. An actually objective review would look something like this [[http://www.destructoid.com/100-objective-review-final-fantasy-xiii-179178.phtml review of Final Fantasy XIII]] by [[WebVideo/{{Jimquisition}} Jim Sterling]].
** The word one should use when speaking about review that is as unbiased as possible and takes into account multiple point of views is 'intersubjective'.
* The use of a somewhat archaic word has clouded its meaning, but nibbling on hors d'oeuvres serves to '''whet''' one's appetite, not ''wet'' it. ''Whet'' means "to sharpen," as seen in the term ''whetstone'', a stone used for sharpening knives--if something is sharpening your appetite, it's leaving you hungry for more, not dampening (or ''wetting'') your enthusiasm. So, "whetting your appetite for destruction" would mean starting small as a prelude to becoming more destructive, not sating the urge altogether.
* There are so many examples of psychological and psychiatric terms that are misused that it almost warrants its own page. To start with:
* '''Psychotic''': It does not mean [[InsaneEqualsViolent "going around and killing people for no reason"]]; someone who does that is just homicidal. Psychosis is a loss of touch with reality, characterized by disorganised thinking, delusions, and sometimes (but not always) auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations. While people with psychosis can be homicidal, it is extremely rare (violence by psychotics is more usually related to paranoid or other delusions).
* '''[[TheSociopath Psychopath / Sociopath]]''': They are usually not murderers; in fact, many successful [[CorruptCorporateExecutive CEOs]], [[AmoralAttorney lawyers]], and [[SleazyPolitician politicians]] are psychopaths or sociopaths. Psychopathy and sociopathy both mean lack of a conscience, a limited emotional range, and difficulty in forming significant relationships. They also often lack impulse control. Both psychopaths and sociopaths can be classed as having antisocial personality disorder, though not all people with the disorder are psychopaths or sociopaths. Psychopathy and sociopathy are typically held to be synonyms under the umbrella of antisocial personality disorder (which is the term the DSM-IV uses that includes psychopaths and sociopaths), and when a distinction is made it has nothing to do with the origins of the disorder, since the origins are not definitely known. The typical distinction is that sociopaths have a more normal temperament and are better able to adapt to societal norms. While statistically speaking murderers are likely to be psychopaths or sociopaths, psychopaths and sociopaths are not very likely to be murderers.
** In the pilot of ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'', Holmes objects to being called a psychopath, preferring to be recognized as a "highly functional sociopath."
*** "High-functioning sociopath." "Highly functional" is a very common misquote; the actual line follows the same pattern as high-functioning autism or high-functioning alcoholism, etc., denoting a person who might have some disorder but is more capable than is common among those who have that disorder. It is not clear what Sherlock actually meant by that statement, since sociopaths follow a "normal" (as in, not distinct from the wider population) distribution curve. All subsequent evidence points to Sherlock just being a (high-functioning) autistic person in denial.
* '''Antisocial''': Sometimes used to mean someone who dislikes or fears socializing. In the psychological sense, it doesn't mean that at all. Antisocial attitudes or behaviors are against society, from extreme acts like murder to more minor transgressions like simply being a manipulative, self-centered {{Jerkass}}. Someone who fears interacting with other people should be said to be '''asocial''' or suffering from social phobia, not "antisocial" tendencies. As a matter of fact, ''social phobia'' is an outdated term, and is usually now called "social anxiety disorder." In other words, people who are antisocial are ''hostile'' -- not merely indifferent -- towards society.
** "Antisocial" is also used to denote "rebellious" individuals actively fighting (not necessarily by violence, also by dissent or passive-aggressive behavior) any authority and are incapable of operating under external influence.
** An increasingly more popular and accurate term for the above disorder is ''agoraphobia'', from the ancient Greek term for "fear of the marketplace." But to be honest, I've always understood that ''agoraphobia'' is fear of the ''entire'' outside world, not just the "social" parts of it. Thus, an agoraphobe would be just as afraid of being lost in a forest or a desert as they were of crowds.
*** It makes more sense once you know that 'agora' in this case is what the Romans called the 'forum', rather than your run-of-the-mill farmers' market.
** ''Agoraphobia'' is more specifically a fear of being unable to ''escape'' from whatever situation you're in (sometimes amended to include 'without severe embarrassment'), rather than the situation itself. In the above examples, the phobic response would be due to the fear of never escaping the forest, or being lost in the desert forever. Being in a busy place (e.g. a football crowd) could count if you couldn't leave your set without making a huge scene.
** What "agoraphobia" misses is the ''social'' part of "social anxiety disorder". Sartre's "Hell is other people" hits a nerve - and as unjustified as that hit may be, it's still felt.
** Perhaps more appropriate word would be "asocial", and it is sometimes used, though it implies lack of interest in social interaction while not fear of it.
*** This is exactly the term used in psychological parlance to describe people avoiding social situations due to social phobias, egomania, extreme introversion or any other factor.
** Agoraphobia is a disorder more focused on the area and getting to safety (without embarrassing yourself) if needed and usually has to do with panic attacks or some of the symptoms of them. A fear focused on actual people or socializing is called social phobia or social anxiety disorder (and is much more severe than shyness so should not be used lightly despite its commonness -- the most common mental disorder in adults other than substance abuse or depression, which is saying something). The best replacement for "antisocial" is "avoidant" -- avoidant personality disorder is associated with extreme social phobia. "Asocial", as pointed out above, is different. Most shy/socially anxious/avoidant people would love to be social if they weren't anxious about it. There are people who simply do not like to be around other people without being either avoidant or antisocial; these are asocial. "Asocial", however, may look like a typo in writing "antisocial" to a reader.
** On a related note, '''introversion''' is not being antisocial; being introverted is simply ''preferring'' solitary activities to social activities.
* '''Manic-depression''' is more properly known as '''bipolar disorder''', and ''does not'' mean "severe depression" or "wild mood swings;" the highs and lows last for days or weeks at a time. Neither one is a catch-all for "crazy ex." (See '''borderline''', '''histrionic''', and '''narcissistic''' disorders for what most people think of as "crazy ex syndrome.")
** [[Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy Marvin the Paranoid Android]] is a ''manically'' depressed robot, ''not'' a manic-depressive robot, which is true - he's enthusiastically depressed.
** Also, bipolar is an ''adjective'', not a noun. It's either "my friend is bipolar" or "my friend has bipolar disorder," ''not'' "my friend has bipolar."
** And it doesn't have anything to do with {{tsundere}}s, no matter what certain fansubs say.
* On the subject of '''borderline''', saying someone is borderline does not mean they're on the cusp of having a personality disorder; it means they ''do'' have one. ''Borderline'' is a name for a very specific pattern of behaviour involving emotional instability, poor self-image, impulsiveness, and [[BlackAndWhiteInsanity black-and-white thinking]] (what psychologists call "splitting"), as well as a fear of abandonment. The name is only used because of historical reasons which are too complex to get into here, and the existence of the disorder has been questioned, with some seeing it as a variant of post-traumatic stress disorder (specifically, one that the profession slaps on female PTSD sufferers, as the overwhelming majority of borderline personality disorder diagnoses are of women).
* '''Depression''' is yet another psychological term (seeing a trend here?) that's casually thrown around but has a different meaning in a medical or therapeutic context. Depression is not just sadness, but much more persistent and disabling, and includes many other mood changes and physical symptoms like: anhedonia (loss of the ability to feel pleasure), changes in sleep and eating habits (either much less or much more than usual), and a lack of energy and motivation.
* '''OCD''' is [[SuperOCD often thought of]] as the concept of a NeatFreak taken to the extreme. That's because the most visible sign of it is the rituals that people who have OCD do (counting, checking, hand-washing, climbing stairs and so on). The reason it's called ''obsessive''-compulsive disorder is because people with it have certain obsessive thoughts that are highly distressing and which they cannot get rid of (things like fears of their entire family dying, or their house burning down, or accidentally harming a baby). The compulsions they have are a coping mechanism of sorts - performing these rituals helps the obsessions go away, but only temporarily. To describe someone as "kind of OCD (adj.)" because they like order and cleanliness is not even close to reality.
* '''Chronic''' does not mean "severe". It means "recurring/habitual" and/or "happening for a long time;" it comes from a Greek root meaning "time" (same as "chronological" or "chronicle"), so you should think "over time." Contrast '''acute''', which means "rapid onset". Too many people associate "acute" with "small" due to its meaning in geometry (they should be associating it with "sharp" for the same reason).
** Also an illness being acute does not necessarily mean that it is serious, it only means that full set of symptoms display themselves quickly (a papercut is acute). So calling a disease Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is not tautological.
* '''Paranoia''' and '''paranoid''' are a particularly egregious case. '''Paranoia''' is a full-blown psychosis, not just thinking people are out to get you. However, someone who really was diagnosed with paranoia would be '''paranoiac''' (literally '''out of his mind'''), not '''paranoid''', which denotes a neurotic '''paranoid state'''.
** This is lampshaded in the movie version of ''Film/TheCaineMutiny'', where Maryk admits that until Keefer talked to him, "I didn't even know the difference between paranoid and paranoia."
* '''Schizophrenia''' does not involve multiple personalities. Multiple personalities are a form of dissociation known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). It is an extremely rare diagnosis, so rare that its existence is very hotly debated. In addition, one of the major prerequisites is that the separate personalities are [[http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Dissociative_Identity_Disorder_(formerly_Multiple_Personality_Disorder).htm usually]] not aware of each other--something that is often overlooked in both real life and the media, as the protagonist in ''Series/UnitedStatesOfTara'' was quick to point out.
** Especially confusing for those who like their Greek roots, because 'Schizophrenia' literally means "split mind".
*** The full etymology for schizophrenia is ''skhizein'' (σχίζειν, "to split") and ''phrēn'', phren- (φρήν, φρεν-; "mind, intelligence") not the same thing as personality.
** If we wanted to do right by the etymologists we should switch from Schneider's 'schizophrenia' name for schizophrenia back to Emil Kraepelin's 'dementia praecox'.
*** ''Dementia praecox'' wouldn't work though because it means "precocious madness", so a degenerative disease of young people. However, schizophrenia isn't degenerative like dementia is, and it's treatable, whereas Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia aren't really and treatments for them are mostly palliative. Also, schizophrenia does most often manifest for the first time in young adulthood (late teens to early twenties) but it can develop at any age, including in the elderly.
** The confusion is likely from some schizophrenics having auditory/visual hallucinations and sometimes speaking back to them, giving the [[IncrediblyLamePun illusion]] to some people that another "personality" is speaking to the schizophrenic.
*** If psychology texts are reliable, the confusion is the above misinterpretation of "intelligence" as "personality", plus failure to understand that "divided" in this instance means something closer to "shattered" than it does to "split".
** The "split" portion of the word actually refers to a divergence of the mind from reality, not that it's split internally.
** The word '''schizoid''', which is a personality disorder, does use this root to mean "cut off (from other people)". But this is a very different thing than schizophrenia.
** If a person has '''anorexia''', then she is '''an anorectic''' or she is '''anorexic'''. She is not an anorexic, nor is she anorectic. "Anorectic" is a noun; "anorexic" is an adjective.
*** In strict medical terms, '''anorexia''' refers generally to loss of appetite as a symptom, the psychiatric disorder involving distorted body image and fear of weight gain is '''anorexia nervosa'''.
* The words '''psychologist''' and '''psychiatrist''' are often confused. A psychologist is someone who has an advanced degree in psychology (normally a doctorate or at least a master's) and does psychotherapy and psychological testing. They can diagnose people, but can't prescribe medication (except in a few jurisdictions) or order medical imaging. A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor who specializes in psychological disorders and they can do these things because of their broader scope of practice. Psychologists study nothing but psychology in their training; psychiatrists have to learn about other branches of medicine first before specializing in it.
* '''Quean''' does not mean, as [[{{Literature/Redwall}} Brian Jacques]] claimed in interviews about ''The Sable Quean'', "wicked woman". Nor, as some readers might assume, does it mean "queen". It means "prostitute" or "promiscuous woman". Then again, this is probably actually a case of GettingCrapPastTheRadar.
* To be '''bereft''' of something does not just mean to be without something. It means to be without something ''that you previously had''.
* '''Peasant''' is not a general term for a poor person. A peasant is a tenant farmer, a free laborer who rents a farm and works it himself. The hierarchy is: slave (who is owned property that can be bought and sold), serf (has some rights, but is required to work his lord's land and give the lord a portion of the harvest), sharecropper (a free man who works on someone else's land and pays the landowner a portion of the crop) peasant, crofter (a farmer who owns his own house, but still rents land to farm), yeoman (owns enough land to support a family), gentleman (owns enough farmland to support himself by renting it out). Admittedly, a lot of this depends on time period and the distinctions can be blurred; for instance, consider someone who rents a piece of land and works it himself but has agreed to pay the rent by sending the landlord crops equivalent in market value to the rent (e.g. "the rent is $600/year; in lieu of cash, tenant may send crops with market value of $600"); is this person a sharecropper or a peasant?[[note]]If he agreed to send a fixed portion or amount of the crops (e.g. 1/3 of all corn harvested, or 100 bushels of wheat"), he would be a sharecropper. If he sold the crops and paid the rent in cash with the proceeds, he would doubtless be a peasant. Since the market value of crops changes, and there may be practical considerations keeping the tenant from using cash (for instance: there aren't many coins in the area to go around, so the economy mostly runs on barter), the distinction is hard to make.[[/note]] To no small degree this depends on whether he's in medieval England (where he would probably be called a peasant) or the post-Civil War American South (where he would probably be called a sharecropper). Poor farmers can loosely be called "the peasantry," but that's about it.
** Note that TranslationConvention can introduce confusion in dealing with non-English-speaking societies. Everything after "peasant" is often called the same thing in many other languages (because "doesn't work for someone else" is a decisive characteristic). Many other European languages also often use their cognates for "peasant" in senses closer to English's "crofter" and "yeoman" (a French peasant could be a full-blown landowner, for example, or a "métayer", a sharecropper).
* A '''Chaingun''' is a single-barrel weapon with an electrically driven bolt operated with a chain. It is not a '''rotary gun'''. This comes from ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' misusing the term; usually, the reasoning for the mistake is that the latter is fed with a "chain" (ie a ''belt'') of ammunition, or that the barrel group is driven by a chain.
** More accurately still, a "Chain Gun" is the specific model of weapon used on many US and NATO aircraft. Any autoloading (generally fully automatic) weapon larger than a machinegun is called an "autocannon" regardless of mechanism. A multi-barrelled weapon in this class that rotates is called a "Rotary Autocannon." A single-barreled weapon that uses a rotating loading mechanism is a "Revolver Autocannon". The most accurate name for ''Doom'''s "chaingun" would be "Rotary Submachine Gun", as it uses pistol ammunition.
* "'''Decapitated''' head" is paradoxical: to decapitate someone is to behead him. Cutting a head off of itself is...well...[[YouKeepUsingThatWord inconceivable]]. A ''body'' can be decapitated; a better adjective for a head on its own is '''severed'''. (''Disembodied'' usually means 'intangible'.)
--> "Newsanchor overheard in ''Film/{{Highlander}}'': "It also left a man's decapitated body, lying on the floor next to his own severed head."
* Related: "decapacitate" is a rarely-used word that means to reduce someone or something's capacity for action, essentially a milder version of "incapacitate." It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the head; in fact, decapitating someone is far more likely to incapacitate them (by killing them) than decapacitate them.
* '''Differential''' is both a noun and an adjective, but in the noun form, it is a mechanical device used for combining torque from different inputs, ''not'' a synonym for '''difference'''. This is a favorite of television sports announcers ("There's a three-point differential in the game!").
** A differential is also used in mathematics to refer to infinitesimals in calculus and differential geometry i.e. dx, dy etc or to the Jacobian matrix of partial derivatives.
* A '''demigod''' is not a lesser "category" of deity. "Demi" means "half", i.e. "half god". A demigod has both mortal and divine parentage. For example, Hercules (son of Zeus, a god, and Alcmene, a human) ''is'' a demigod, whereas a dryad (a forest spirit) is ''not''.
** Note, however, that the term was invented by 19th century classicists; the Greek word for "of mixed divine and mortal parentage" was "hero" (which originally ''never'' applied to pureblood mortals—and also had intrinsically cultic connotations, since all the mythic heroes were considered appropriate for worship, especially Heracles).
* Something being '''random''' means that it has no clear predictability or arrangement. It doesn't mean "kooky" or "off the wall", and neither sporks nor waffles nor [[DoomyDoomsOfDoom doom]] are "random" (see also: the 4chan meme "Katy").
* '''{{Prequel}}''' doesn't mean "a previous installment in a series". It means "a sequel to an existing work that takes place earlier in the timeline of its [[TheVerse 'Verse]]".
* The suffix '''mancer''' does not mean "magician". A [something]mancer is a very specific type of magician who uses [something] to predict the future. (A "necromancer" used bones and entrails to divine.) A better suffix, -urge, means "worker", as in "one who creates or works with". A thaumaturge (worker of wonders) is a magician, but a dramaturge (playwright) isn't, and neither is a metallurgist nor a demiurge.
* The Internet usage of '''{{Troll}}''' does not mean "someone who has a different opinion from mine", "someone who has an unpopular opinion", or "someone who does something for attention". A troll is someone who does/says things for the sole purpose of trying to piss people off. Someone can legitimately have an unpopular opinion, but he's not a troll unless he states it just to be annoying.
** A well known real-life troll is Fred Phelps, who travels around the country saying the most upsetting things he can to emotional audiences (mainly at funerals), in the hopes that someone will cross the legal line so he and his family (all lawyers) can sue them.
** The term comes not from the mythical creature, but from a ''trawling'', the method of fishing involving moving through the water while waving the bait behind you. An internet troll is fishing for reactions, waving their 'opinion' as bait.
*** Its earliest use, in the early 90's, usually referred to 'fishing out' new users and lurkers (often in a good-natured attempt to encourage them to write) by presenting an argument that had been already thoroughly discussed by regulars.
** In even narrower sense, trolls do not even have to have an unpopular opinions. They cause also can cause stir by simply initiating a [[FlameWar discussion that is bound to cause an argument]] but they may do so without taking sides themselves. (However, [[HanlonsRazor be careful with accusations in this case; they may simply have]] triggered an event by accident.)
*** Not to mention the ChewbaccaDefense.
** Lately the term has been used as a synonym for "bully" or "harasser" in that it constitutes behavior used to belittle or demean a target. It's also often confused with the term "flaming" which is any sort of negativity towards a specific user. While the initial trolling might involve any of those, the end goal of the troll is to ''incite'' flames rather than just insult somebody.
* A '''[[UsefulNotes/FurryFandom furry]]''' is not the same thing as a zoophile. A zoophile gets off on real animals, while furries like fictional anthropomorphic characters, most of whom would be intelligent enough to consent if they were real.
** Also, many if not most furries are not interested in the sexual aspect of the fandom at all, they simply like drawing/dressing up as/writing about anthropomorphic animals.
** The confusion about the definition of the term is not helped by the fact that it is often used interchangeably to refer to both fans of anthropomorphic animal characters and the characters themselves. The especially pedantic may insist on referring to the former as "furry fans" and reserving the term "furry" for the latter, but even that may be confused by the practice of taking on a "fursona," at which point a person is both a furry fan and a self-identified (though not literal) furry (i.e. anthropomorphic animal).
* '''I.e.''' ("id est," "that is") and '''e.g.''' ("exempli gratia," "for example") are not interchangeable. I.e may be used to expand upon a point or to exhaustively list every possibility, while e.g. merely gives possible answers but leaves the list open.
-->"There are many varieties of pasta, e.g., spaghetti, macaroni, and gnocchi."
-->"Pasta should be made ''al dente,'' i.e., firm and chewy, not overcooked."
** A useful mnemonic is to remember i.e. as "in essence" and e.g. as "example given."
** On a similar note, '''etc.''' ("et cetera," "and other things"), should never end a list introduced with "e.g." or "i.e." (or the plain English "for example" and "such as"). Etc. and e.g. are redundant, and it makes no sense to abbreviate i.e.
* A '''[[ImAHumanitarian cannibal]]''' eats members of its own species. Something that is non-human, but eats humans, is an '''anthropophage'''. "Anthropophage" is a pretty pedantic word, but come on; use "man-eater" or something. Technically a human [[ImAHumanitarian who eats other humans]] would be a cannibal ''and'' an anthropophage, but "cannibal" seems superordinate in this case. The word "cannibal" derives from the Carib people (after whom the Caribbean Sea is named) who were once believed to chew and spit out the flesh of a defeated enemy.
** This was actually mentioned in ''Film/DawnOfTheDead1978'', where it was said that the undead were not cannibals, because they were no longer human.
** This is also pointed out in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' by Alistair when he remarks that it's not cannibalism if ''Dog'' is eating fallen foes.
** However, in fantasy/sci-fi settings, the definition is sometimes extended to any [[YouKeepUsingThatWord/VeryPedantic sapient]] creature [[SapientEatSapient eating another]] (Elves eating humans, or even lizardfolk, would be considered cannibals in such a setting).
* The phrase "'''more highly evolved'''" means nothing: [[GoalOrientedEvolution evolution doesn't work like a ladder that animals climb to the top]]. No biologist has thought of it that way since Darwin. You could say that a species that hasn't changed for a few million years is "unevolved" but that would be a rather simplistic way of looking at it. After all evolution is still working on the species, because they aren't changing, evolution is "selecting" for no change. Evolution is always working on a species, unless they reach a very specific and almost impossible set of conditions.
** The word ''evolution'' can mean a lot of different things, from the scientific "natural selection", and "development of life from single-celled organisms to current situation", the same but including emergence of life from non-life, and the less scientific "change over time", "change for the better" or simply "huge change", as used in advertising.
*** Evolution may also refer to specific terms of conditions. If we speak about, say, the operating systems that are meant to be user-friendly and efficient then we can say that better-developed systems are 'more evolved'. In the case of natural selection such judgment makes little sense because that would have required an objective knowledge of the meaning of life which is, as all things objective, beyond the grasp of human mind.
*** And if we were to put this in the "very-Pedantic" entry, "evolution" originally meant to ''unroll something''. The word has been documented since the 17th century and might be even older. The word "evolution" is a prime example of a dead metaphor, where a metaphor becomes an actual term no longer considered metaphorical (e.g. electric current). The word was used a metaphor for the unrolling of time/fate and over the ages, its, well, evolved so that not only has the metaphorical meaning lost its metaphorical use, the original meaning has been completely forgotten.
** Similarly, terms such as ''devolution'', ''de-evolution'', ''reverse evolution'', etc. carry no meaning in biology (although "devolution" carries a separate meaning in politics), since complex forms of life can become less complex and physical traits that were once advantageous can disappear (or remain as vestigial traits) over generations when confronted by a new environment. That doesn't stop the writers of science fiction from occasionally using this term when a member of one species "returns" to an ancestral form, nor does it stop [[{{Music/Devo}} some people]] from adopting the term to mean "reverse progress."
** Also: By the millions of years their species have been around with few significant changes, two of the least highly evolved creatures are alligators and sharks. Evolution doesn't have any direction, but once it stumbles on a winning combination, it is ''really good at sticking with it''. Some prominent biologists have used sharks as examples that sapience and intelligence are not evolutionary imperatives, and that they are in fact entirely up to chance.
* '''Castration''' is specifically the removal of ''testicles''. The correct term for the removal of the penis (or the male genitalia as a whole) is '''emasculation'''. Though it might be argued that the correct term for either one is [[ShareTheMalePain ouch]].
** The surgical removal of the penis is called a ''penectomy'', while ''orchidectomy'' is the term for the surgical removal of the testicles. (And now you get the joke in ''Series/MadMen'' about Bert Cooper's "unnecessary orchidectomy.")
** One can be castrated without the testicles being removed (still less the whole scrotum- very dangerous without modern techniques, it has a heavy blood supply)- the only significant part is the ''testes'', the glands within them. These can be permanently decommissioned by drugs or, in the case of the Italian castrati singers of the 14th to 19th centuries, by being deliberately ruptured by being squeezed by one who knows where to apply pressure. (They can also be ruptured by accident, though you'd have to be very unlucky to lose both this way.)
* A '''totem''' is not a personal spirit guide, even if it ''is'' an animal. A totem animal protects an entire ''group'' of people, such as a family, clan, or tribe.
* '''Asexual''' is applied in general to [[{{Asexuality}} anyone who doesn't have sex for any reason]], but, as a proper sexual orientation, there are several more nuanced shades of meaning. ''Asexual'' in the strict sense means that a person does not feel physical attraction to others. A person who wants to have sex but has physiological or psychological reasons preventing them from having sex is not asexual. Similarly, someone who identifies as asexual does not see themselves as suffering from a medical disorder like lack of sex drive.
** An asexual can and often does experience attraction but it's more of the platonic/aesthetic type. There are as many different types of asexuals as sexuals, but it should really be pointed out that it has nothing to do with desiring relationships. There are many sexuals who do not desire relationships, for example, Creator/CharlieSheen's character on ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen''.
** Being asexual does not necessarily mean that the person doesn't want relationships-- an ''aromantic'' person is uninterested in relationships. One can be asexual but romantic (enjoys friendship, love, kissing or hugging, but is uninterested in sexual activity) or sexual but aromantic (interested in sex but not in relationships).
** ''Autosexual'' can refer to a person who enjoys masturbation, but not sex (with another person). Autosexuals are not considered asexual.
*** Technically, as an orientation, an autosexual is someone who is in love with themself. Otherwise, autosexuality or autoerotica is a behavior, not a sexual orientation. Otherwise, sexuals who masturbate would also be called autosexuals.
** Finally, asexual can also refer to "not having a sex" (as opposed to a sex ''drive''), most commonly in the term "asexual reproduction". However, context is usually sufficient to distinguish the terms - it depends on whether you're discussing humans, or non-human species.
* Relatedly, '''abstinence''' is a willing choice not to engage in some activity--such as, for example, ''sexual abstinence'' (which might range from "doing everything but intercourse" to much stricter levels of abstinence, like refraining from masturbation and from sexual contact with others). '''Celibacy''' originally meant simply "being unmarried", but now generally means being unmarried ''and'' sexually abstinent. '''Chastity''' means obeying the appropriate moral rules for sexual behavior, which does ''not'' necessarily imply sexual abstinence: in traditional Christian teaching, for example, a chaste husband and wife would be sexually active with each other (but with nobody else), but a chaste, unmarried person would be sexually abstinent.
* '''Comprise''' and '''compose''' are (roughly) reciprocal, not synonyms. An archipelago ''is composed of'' many islands, and ''comprises'' those islands; it is not ''comprised of'' the islands -- if anything, the islands are comprised of the archipelago (though this use of ''of'' is very archaic; ''comprised by'' might be better--although not by much, since ''comprised by'' is hardly a common expression either).
* '''Erstwhile''' is not laudatory; it means 'former'.
* In chemistry, '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatility_%28chemistry%29 Volatile]]''' does ''not'' mean "explosive" or "flammable"[[note]]and certainly not that it [[FanFic/QuarterLifeHalfwayToDestruction does not have a half-life but quarter life so you must observe with haste]][[/note]], it means how likely the substance is to vaporise. Vapours of a given flammable substance likely ''will'' be even more flammable than say the liquid form, but that's just coincidental. The correct words to describe something which is likely to go boom or ''otherwise react spontaneously'' is either ''unstable'' (for when it is energetically likely) or ''labile'' (when it is kinetically likely); in particular, gasoline and oils are volatile but not particularly unstable, compared to compounds like acetylene.
** In regular English, the other meaning ("quick to anger" or "prone to violence") is perfectly correct, however.
* '''Holland''' is a region in '''The Netherlands'''. It comprises most of the coastal region and the best-known cities from The Netherlands lie in Holland, namely [[FreestateAmsterdam Amsterdam]], Rotterdam and The Hague. Holland is not a valid name for the country, nor is it the name of a province anymore. The region that was once Holland now has the imaginative names North Holland and South Holland. This is akin to referring to the UK as "England".
** It should be noted that in several languages the official name of Netherlands is derived from the name of the Holland province (e.g. 'Holandia' in Polish or 'Holland' in Danish and Estonian). It is used however to denote only the European part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands that incorporates also Aruba and former Dutch Antilles).
** Of course, it doesn't help avoid confusion when the ''pars pro toto'' shorthand "Holland" is used in the name of the national football team and by local fans who shout "Holland!" and "Hup Holland Hup!" at matches (so the word "Holland" is prominently implied to denote the whole country to the rest of the world's spectators), and "Holland" is currently used by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions to refer to the entire country in literature for prospective visitors. The main tourist website is Holland.com which contains a brief description of why Netherlands is technically correct but why it's nonetheless preferred to use Holland to attract visitors. The Dutch may actually be less pedantic on this point than many English speakers.
* A '''rabbi''' is a person sufficiently versed in Jewish law to have obtained this designation from a religious authority, not unlike an academic degree (you are still entitled to be addressed as Doctor even if you "don't do anything" with your Ph. D.). A rabbi:
** is ''not'' the Jewish equivalent of a priest (there still exists a hereditary priestly class within the Tribe of Levi, called Kohanim, although their duties have been significantly reduced since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE);
** is ''not'' a person who certifies kosher food (this is a ''mashgiaḥ'', which literally means "inspector", and it is certainly not done through "blessing" food as [[ArtisticLicenseReligion Hollywood seems to think]]);
** is ''not'' a person who does circumcisions (this is a ''mohel'', who is generally a licensed physician these days),
** is ''not'' a person who leads prayers in the synagogue (this is a ''ḥazan'' or cantor, or often just a lay member of the congregation); and
** is not exclusively the spiritual leader of a synagogue (rabbis who do this are usually called "pulpit rabbis", but there are thousands of individuals with rabbinic ordination who do not work for synagogue congregations, including those who simply study full-time).
** Now to be fair, there is overlap among these categories -- some kohanim become rabbis, some rabbis work as mashgiḥim, etc., but the fact of being a rabbi does not mean that one is/does any of them. Also, any bearded man wearing black is not a rabbi -- this is standard appearance for all ultra-Orthodox Jews whether or not they have rabbinic ordination.
* The generic [[HypocriticalHumor verbing]] of nouns, '''medaling''' to describe ''winning'' a medal, '''actioning''' for ''doing'' something, '''friending''' for ''becoming'' friends. This is an interesting case, as it is becoming increasingly acceptable to "verb" nouns in colloquial speech, and it isn't like these words have any other established uses that would make a distinction worthwhile to defend (being neologisms for the most part).[[note]]Particularly insane denizens of this very wiki would attribute this to the influence of Creator/JossWhedon; they may very well be right, but that's beside the point.[[/note]] As a result, it's difficult to solidly classify any of these verb-to-noun constructions as solecisms (except perhaps ''actioning'', which provides only a clumsy synonym for ''doing'' much as ''utilizing'' is most frequently used as a clumsy synonym for ''using''), but one would be very well-advised to avoid them in more formal writing.
* '''Jealousy''' typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. One can be a jealous boyfriend, but one cannot be jealous of ''someone else's'' boyfriend, unless [[HoYay there's already something between the two of you]]. This is often confused with '''Envy''', which is "an emotion that occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it. Further compounding the confusion is the word '''Covet''', which includes all the characteristics of the definition of 'envy' but also indicates a willingness to take the object coveted for themselves. For instance, if a person has a television set that you want, envy might drive you to buy a bigger, better TV (as you desire the quality of owning a nice television). If you coveted it, however, you'd be more likely to steal their TV (as you desire the exact television set they own). And if you're jealous, you're worried that they're coveting ''your'' TV.
** This confusion has caused no small amount of confusion with one of the Christian commandments. The command is correctly translated as 'Do not covet', but 'Do not envy' and, worse yet, 'Do not be jealous' are common incorrect translations.
* '''Lose''' vs. '''Loose''': More of a spelling issue than a language one; people still ''say'' them correctly. However, (particularly online), the two are used almost interchangeably, though it is more common to add an "o" than to subtract one. For the record, "lose" (rhymes with "booze") is a verb, and, in its intransitive form, has several meanings including to suffer defeat, to suffer loss or to depreciate in effectiveness. "Loose" (rhymes with "goose") is an adjective, and the opposite of tight. You can lose a game, but not tighten it. Your shoelaces can be loose, but you can't win them. Okay, technically shoelaces ''could'' be a prize...
** Loose can also be used as a verb, to mean "release" or "unfasten", but that usage is kinda archaic -- you've probably never heard it outside of Literature/TheBible or archery (one looses an arrow from a bow). It ''still'' isn't the opposite of "win" or "find", ever.
** Not only a spelling issue, but very often a "spell-check" type of issue, where the word could be a typo but will never be caught by spell-check.
** A particularly interesting example of this is a Swedish book called ''The Looser Handbook'' which is about the art of leading a life of constant failure. It only stands to reason that the author would fail at naming the book, since failure is what the book is about.
* '''Casualties''' are the people ''wounded'' and ''permanently crippled'' (physically or psychologically), missing, captured, and dead sustained [[StrategyVersusTactics during a military operation]] or in any other given period. There is a term the dead, missing, captured, and crippled alone: '''Irrecoverable Casualties'''. Those who merely died (sometimes including those dead of wounds or in captivity) constitute '''Fatalities'''. Note however that the definition of wounded is pretty fluid - it can mean anything from "minor stab wound requiring hospitalisation to be on the safe side" to "crippling but temporary phobia of footsteps" to "three limbs blown off and permanent loss of hearing". In other words just anything short of actual death.
** To quote the other wiki, "In military usage, a casualty is a person in service killed in action, killed by disease, disabled by injuries, disabled by psychological trauma, captured, deserted, or missing, but not someone who sustains injuries which do not prevent them from fighting." So if one received a minor stab wound and got stitched up and sent back to the front one would not be a casualty.
** Casualty is also not the adjective form of casual, as Music/{{Jewel}} learned in an [[http://www.mtv.com/news/1430602/jewel-kurt-loder-square-off-on-poetic-license/ infamous]] TV interview (and she [[DeathGlare was not happy about it.]])
* '''Invalid''' with regard to arguments is a matter of not having the correct form. It has nothing to do with the truth value of the statement. ''See generally'' SoundValidTrue.
** "Fido has four legs. Dogs have four legs. Therefore Fido is a dog." is invalid. "Fido has four legs. All animals with four legs are cats. Therefore Fido is a cat" is valid.
* '''CGI''': In VideoGames, the term is often misused to describe '''pre-rendered cutscenes'''. '''All''' videogames (except ones done entirely with FullMotionVideo) use CGI, which means "computer-generated imagery". Even ''VideoGame/PacMan'' and ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'' use CGI; their graphics were created by computer images. When a cutscene is debated on whether it shows real gameplay, there's no question whether it has CGI (unless it features live-action video). The question is whether the video was pre-rendered and recorded beforehand or if it features the actual game assets.
** In animation, CGI is used to mean "anything rendered in 3D software". 2D animation using computer rendering software (UsefulNotes/{{Adobe Flash}}/Animate, UsefulNotes/ToonBoom) are typically referred to by what program they were rendered in, despite being just as computer-generated as the 3D kind. Wiki/ThisVeryWiki's own AllCGICartoon page tends to list 3D works over computer-made 2D ones.
* '''MMO''' is commonly used to refer to an ''MMORPG'', an abbreviation for '''M'''assively '''M'''ultiplayer '''O'''nline '''R'''ole '''P'''laying '''G'''ame. While it makes sense to abbreviate the term, most people refer to an MMORPG as an "MMO", when "MMO" is merely a prefix, as any genre can be Massively Multiplayer and online. Most Massively Multiplayer Online Games happen to be {{RPG}}s because the formula had been experimented with the most, but if you refer to game as an "MMOG" or refer to ''VideoGame/{{Neocron}}'' or ''VideoGame/PlanetSide'' as an "MMOFPS" or ''Darkwind War On Wheels'' as an "MMOTBS", people will often look at you weirdly and not understand what you meant as other multiplayers, no matter ''how'' massive they are just call them "Multiplayer" or "Online".
* '''Otome Games''' are [[RomanceGame games with a female protagonist and male love interests]], with the main focus being the romance between the protagonist and male characters. Games for a female audience with a CastFullOfPrettyBoys, SelfInsert protagonist but no explicit romance with the protagonist are not otome games. ''VideoGame/ToukenRanbu'', ''VideoGame/{{A3}}'', ''VideoGame/TheIdolmasterSideM'', ''VideoGame/EnsembleStars'' and ''VideoGame/IDOLiSH7'' are sometimes labelled otome games, even though they technically aren't.
* A '''Protagonist''' is the principal character (or, more loosely, character''s'') of a work, typically the one from whose perspective it is narrated and usually ([[VillainProtagonist though not always]]) TheHero, or at least [[AntiHero the person we're meant to sympathise with]]. Strictly speaking, there can only be one protagonist. The second-most important character on the protagonist's side is the "{{deuteragonist}}", the third is the "tritagonist", and so forth. An '''Antagonist''' is a character who creates problems for the protagonist, and is thus typically [[{{Villains}} The Villain]] (although again, [[HeroAntagonist not always]]). It is '''''NOT''''' the other way round. Some people get this wrong, even though you'd think it obvious given that 'antagonist' obviously shares a root with 'antagonize'....
* '''[=MP3=]''' refers to either the MPEG standard popularly used to encode music or audio files, or a file using this standard. It is not the same as an '''[=MP3=] player''', which is either computer software or a physical media player which plays [=MP3s=], and it is not a catch-all for all kinds of digital audio.
** On a side note, [=MP3=] does not stand for MPEG-3 but for MPEG-1 Layer 3 (and MPEG-2 Part 3) which is a sound encoding mechanism for the MPEG-1 format. In order to avoid any further confusion, the MPEG (Moving Picture Expert Group) decided there would never be any MPEG-3 standard and thus they went from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4.
** This is made worse by Chinese manufacturers who simply bump the number after "MP" whenever they add a new feature, so we have [=MP3=] player, [=MP4=] player (their 'new feature' is video playback, but they're also unrelated to [=MPEG-4=] and don't support [=MPEG-4=] video at all), [=MP5=] player, [=MP6=] player...
* A '''riff''' is "a short, repeated phrase, frequently played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation". The way "riff" is often used, especially by [[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 MST3K]], is as though the riff itself is an improvisation, and "riffing" is the act of coming up with something on the spot. It's actually the opposite: a riff is the same thing repeated over and over again, possibly with ''slight'' variation. The confusion likely comes about because riffs are used in jazz, and jazz is improvisational music; but improvisations are not made of riffs, they're made of longer, more complex melodic phrases. Improvisation is the spontaneous creation of a melody, and is not properly called "riffing". An example of "riffing" would be the guitar part in the verse of "You Really Got Me", "Come As You Are", or "Whole Lotta Love"; or in jazz, the repeated horn parts heard most famously in Count Basie arrangements: a short fragment that's repeated constantly and identically.
** as a note [no pun intended] when people refer to a "riff" or "riffing", what they are probably INTENDING to refer to is "scatting" - scat singing, specifically, although one can scat on any instrument; "scat" officially means "vocal improvisation with wordless vocables" (nonsense syllables generally, sometimes just "oooo" or "aaa", sometimes a single word used over and over, etc) but over the past decades has grown to mean ANY instrument improvising the melody, over the riff, in a jazz or jazz-based song or piece.
** On the other hand, Merriam-Webster dictionary describes riff as above (noting the possible etymologyis a shortening of the word 'refrain') but also gives another definitions, namely 'any variation or ''improvisation'''.
* Occasionally, a law-enforcement officer will refer to the scene of a brutal crime as being very "'''graphic'''". Well, duh, you're there and you're looking at it, one would expect it to be visual and realistic instead of merely implied. The idea of "graphic" violence in media isn't that it's {{Gorn}}, just that it's shown onscreen rather than implied.
** by the same token '''explicit''' doesn't mean rude or obscene (as people probably think due to those "explicit lyrics" labels) it means stated outright rather than just suggested.
* '''Rein''' vs. '''reign'''. "Reign" means to rule as royalty, "reins" are what one uses to guide a horse. Both involve leadership and sound exactly alike, and so are easily confused. A very common example is the phrase "free rein", which means letting loose of the reins and allowing a horse to wander as it pleases. This is often misused as "free reign", which doesn't even make sense: a King by definition has freedom to reign, it's what makes him a King. So to recap: "reign" refers to a ''state'' of having authority, while "free rein" or "being given the reins" refer to the ''actions'' of leadership in a situation. If there is a plural, it's almost always going to be "reins".
* '''Charisma''' refers to someone's speaking talents and ability to influence others through force of personality and diplomacy. While good looks help, someone is ''not'' charismatic because she looks good in a formal dress, or because he has blue eyes and a nice smile; similarly, just because someone is able to speak publicly and get their point across doesn't qualify them either, not unless people are cheering wildly for ''how'' the news is presented, rather than the facts themselves. For a historical example, UsefulNotes/{{Cleopatra}} was considered extremely charismatic, despite contemporary accounts of her being a very plain-looking woman.[[note]]Centuries of artists depicting her as a beautiful temptress have influenced the modern view of her.[[/note]]
* '''Calorie''' is a non-SI unit of energy. It is relatively small unit however, so caloric intake of foods is usually expressed in kilocalories, (1 kcal = 1000 calories). Thus an average recommended daily energy intake is not 2200 calories but 2200 kilocalories or 2,200,000 calories.
** A '''C'''alorie refers to a kilocalorie, while a '''c'''alorie refers to the base unit. This can get confusing when 'calorie' is at the beginning of a sentence, which without context, would be indistinguishable as to if it was between the normal unit or the large unit.
** Also, although it isn't an SI unit, it ''is'' a metric unit rather than Imperial or American customary.
* '''Stereophonic''' refers to an audio that has exactly two speakers, instead of one ('''mono''') or four ('''surround'''). It is slightly inaccurate to refer to a system with surround sound as a "stereo", but always inaccurate to refer to the output as being "stereo sound."
** Less commonly, it can be any sound the gives the illusion of being surrounded by a sound field. It's not useful stereo if the two speakers are stacked one on top of the other, or placed too close together as in a boombox.
* One's interest is '''piqued''', not ''peaked''. This mistake is understandable, since "peak" can be used as a verb to mean "maximize" or "climax"; though your English professor will still probably mark this as being wrong. [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII "Poque"]] [[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail is right out.]]
** Likewise, getting a preview of something means getting a '''sneak peek'''. A "sneak peak" would be a [[https://twitter.com/StealthMountain stealth mountain]]. In fact, someone's interest may be piqued by a good peek.
* The '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception Immaculate Conception]]''' refers to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by ''her'' mother Anna, specifically the belief that "from the first moment of her existence [... Mary] was preserved by God from the Original Sin and filled with sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth." Jesus' conception and birth from Mary was the '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Birth Virgin Birth]]'''. (Whether Mary actually was immaculately conceived is a huge theological dispute between Catholics and modern Protestants, so nothing more will be said about that. But if a Protestant says he doesn't believe in the "Immaculate Conception", he is ''not'' necessarily saying that Mary wasn't a virgin.)
** And the Immaculate ''Reception'' is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Reception something else entirely]]...
* A '''song''' is called "song" because there's singing in it. If there is no singing in it, it is not a song. There is a proper word for a musical composition without singing. It's a '''piece'''. In the context of popular music, one might call it a "track" (which encompasses music that does have singing and music that doesn't).
** Musical definitions are strange animals because composers are always PlayingWith definitions. Mendelssohn quite famously wrote piano pieces called or "Lieder ohne Worte," or "Songs without words." Even in German, the Lied was associated with singing, and Mendelssohn was PlayingWith the idea [[OlderThanRadio in the 19th century]]. Also, a "piece" can include singing, but it is normally limited to one where the singing is not the primary purpose, like Beethoven's 9th symphony. However, there is a song in that movement (which we know as "Ode to Joy"). Composers ''love'' to MindScrew with convention.
*** All of which gets frustrating when trying to put this kind of music into a computer, having to classify movements or recitatives as 'songs', composers as 'bands', operas as 'albums' and anything written before about 1920 as 'Classical', a weird appellation to, say, Medieval music, to lump it in with Puccini and Handel (neither of whom are really 'classical' either.)
* A '''neophyte''' is someone who is new to something (a newbie); it literally means "new/young/newly-planted plant". A '''neophile''' is someone who likes things that are new.
* '''Novitiate''' is the state, condition, or period of being a '''novice''', not the person. William Buckley fouls this up in ''Tucker's Last Stand''.
* An '''epidemic''' refers to the frequency of a disease substantially exceeding what is expected in recent history.
* '''Sushi''' is a food consisting of cooked rice mixed with vinegar ("shari") and other ingredients. It can contain a large variety of ingredients ranging from vegetables, seafood (mostly uncooked, but some are cooked as well), sauces, etc. The shari makes it sushi. '''Onigiri''' or '''(o)musubi''' is usually rice (no vinegar), another ingredient, wrapped in seaweed.
** Similarly, '''Sashimi''' is taken to be the the word for raw seafood by itself, but it actually refers to the way it is prepared (thin slices), and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions#Food_and_cooking can apply to other types of meat or vegetables]].
* '''Ichor''' originally meant the blood of gods or angels. In later times, it has somehow come to also mean pus. Fiction writers, however, like to use it as a "fancy-sounding" word for pretty much any liquid.
* '''Your''' and '''you're'''. "Your" is a possessive pronoun used to describe something as belonging to the person being addressed, while "you're" is a contraction of "you are". If "you are" would fit instead, then "your" is not the correct word.
** Likewise, '''it's''', and '''its''' have similar misuse. "Its" is a possessive pronoun that's usually used to describe what belongs to the subject in the sentence. "It's" is the contraction of "it is". If "it is" can fit into the sentence, then "its" is not the correct word. Likewise, if there's a sign of the subject having possession in the sentence, then "it's" does not apply. (A good way to make sure it's being used correctly is to speak the phrase as if there's no contraction. For example, "It's red" = "It is red" is correct. "It's walls" = "It is walls" is incorrect, and should be "Its walls".)
* '''Implicate''' means to be responsible for something, or to assign responsibility to someone. '''Insinuate''' means to subtly hint at something unpleasant. Both are used for "imply", whether positive or negative. Imply actual means to ''strongly'' hint at something.
* '''Pilot''' does not simply mean "the first episode of a TV show". It should be used if, and ''only'' if, the episode is made by itself with the intention of shopping it around to various networks who will judge whether it works well enough to commission a whole series, as in a "pilot program". ''Film/PulpFiction'', which popularized the term, actually made this distinction, but along the way the word has become conflated with '''premiere'''. This usage is especially incorrect when referring to animated shows, which often get a whole season commissioned in advance due to animation lead time, and the pilot or pitch demo, often made cheaply and quickly, is simply redone.
** The exception, obviously, is when the pilot is made and ''then'' broadcast as the first episode.
* '''Ripoff''' is either a bad financial scam where you are conned into buying a fake product, or something where you are tricked into giving money without receiving anything in return. A lot of people use "ripoff" to mean the general act of copying or mimicry in general, and in the form of entertainment, a '''Ripoff''' is apparently "[[TheyCopiedItSoItSucks Something that's similar to a movie I saw before]]." The origin of this misuse had to do with [[TheMockbuster Mockbusters]] trying to trick people into buying their product mistaking it for the product they actually wanted.
* '''JustForFun/{{Egregious}}''' has been used so egregiously on Wiki/ThisVeryWiki that it has its own page.
* Similarly '''Your Mileage Will Vary''' is used as a way of referring to Your Mileage May Vary taken UpToEleven on especially controversial issues that reach a point where [[BrokenBase there is no middle ground]]. Your Mileage May Vary comes from car commercials that say consumers might get a different amount of mileage than is advertised, and on this wiki, means that viewers might not agree with the statement. Using "Your Mileage Will vary" implies unanimous disagreement rather than inevitable controversy.
%% Do not bluelink any of the Your Mileage X phrases.
* The word '''{{Trope}}''' does not come from TV Tropes, and like "subversion" its meaning in the real world is different than on this site. In reality "trope" does not mean "storytelling device" but "the use of a word to have a meaning different than the usual one."
** It does almost fit; trope titles often use words differently than the literal definition, because they're slang or jargon that already existed, or for brevity, or to make a pun.
* The word '''logical''' does not mean "reasonable" or "the result of a well-shaped argument". It means "defined according to the rules of logic", logic being a number of highly specific ways to describe and analyze the interaction between set premises.
* One that shows up every now and again is '''equivocal''' to mean "equivalent". An equivocal statement is one that is ambiguous and open to interpretation (conversely, an unequivocal statement is one in which the meaning is clear).
* '''Presently''' does not mean "happening now" or "ongoing". It means "soon".
* '''Ambivalence''' is not the same as ''ambiguity'' or just 'not bothered'. if you feel ambivalent about a decision, you are torn by equally strong feelings in two (or more) directions. A child deciding whether to live with her mother or father after a divorce might feel ambivalent.
* The term '''"stepchild"''' is sometimes mistakenly used with children who are ''adopted'', rather than for children whose [[ParentWithNewParamour parents have married someone besides their other parent]]. For example, Lindesfarne of ''Webcomic/KevinAndKell'' is Angelique's adopted daughter, but after her adoptive parents' divorce, she became Kell's stepdaughter when she married her adoptive father Kevin.
* Something that is '''anonymous''' has no name attached. If there is a name attached but it doesn't match the one on the originator's passport, such as an internet username, it's '''pseudonymous'''.
* '''Cherubim''' (singular '''cherub''') are the alien looking creatures appearing in the book of Ezekiel. The chubby little winged cupids are called '''putti''' (or '''putto''' in singular), and don't really have anything to do with biblical angels.
* In the entertainment industry, there are '''indie''' producers and developers (short for independent) that create and release their own works without relying on a 3rd party to assist in their project, such as major developers or publishers. However, people often get meaning of indie movies/games/etc. wrong and think it means the product was made by people who did not have a lot of money. This also leads people to believe that indie developers that make a ton of money off of their work or use a major publisher to get their product out to the public have "sold out" to major corporations. In short, as long as a group of developers have total control over their creations and don't have anyone outside of their group influencing their work, then the developers are indie, whether they are large or small, profitable or unprofitable.
** The Independent Spirit Awards had to actually redefine its criteria for nominations after ''Film/{{Fargo}}'' won Best Picture. While it was technically an independent film, its budget was $7M, and not in the spirit (pun recognized) of the awards, which was intended to give low budget films their own recognition.
* In the context of wrestling, an '''escape''' is where one frees themselves from a hold, a '''counter''' is where one turns a hold being applied to them into a hold of their own and a '''reversal''' is a specific counter that results in you applying the hold your opponent just had you in.
** The confusion was referenced in Wrestling/RingOfHonor when Wrestling/CMPunk argued he shouldn't have been cost a rope break when he used them to reverse an arm hold applied by Wrestling/AJStyles instead of using them to as a means of escape. Unfortunately Punk allowed Styles to escape while arguing, weakening his own point and requiring ROH [[ObviousRulePatch to take another look at the rules]].
** In TNA, Don West had to explain the significance of someone finding a counter to the Canadian destroyer used by Petey William, after the fans had likely seen the move blocked, escaped or otherwise negated dozens of time. Even then, the move itself may never have been countered before but attempts to apply it had.
* Someone born with reproductive organs that are intermediate between male and female is not transgender or a hermaphrodite, they are '''intersexed'''. A true '''hermaphrodite''' is an organism with functional male and female parts in the same body, that can reproduce as either: a condition which occurs naturally in earthworms or snails, but never in humans.
* '''"Excessive"''' does not mean "a lot" or "a great deal". It means "too much".
* One can only commit '''treason''' if they are working with a foreign power. If it's a completely internal case of trying to overthrow the government, it's '''sedition'''.
* '''Cojones''' is Spanish for balls. '''Cajones''' is Spanish for drawers.
** Although, saying ''cajones'' in English could be a [[BilingualBonus bilingual pun]].
* '''Port and starboard''' do not mean left and right, but specifically ''the ship's'' left and right -- that is, the left and the right of a person on the ship facing towards the bow. The fore and aft directions are similarly measured relative to the vessel, not the speaker.
** In cases where a smaller boat or plane is being carried on a larger ship, "left" and "right" are always used when referring to the smaller boat or plane to prevent confusion. So if a plane is parked on a carrier deck facing towards the back of the ship, the left side of the plane is towards the starboard side of the ship.
* '''Entitled''' means that someone is given a title, authority or ''rightful'' ownership of something. Some people however use it as if it meant the opposite, "someone is claiming to deserve something, although he doesn't". Even on Wiki/TVTropes - see EntitledBastard, EntitledToHaveYou. The usage here refers to an unearned ''subjective feeling'' of entitlement, hence the common expression "sense of entitlement" - the person in question ''feels'' they deserve something, even though they don't. The correct way to use "entitled" would be saying the person feels or acts like they are entitled to something, not that they are "being" entitled.
* '''Simplistic''' is not a synonym for "simple". It means "too simple" or "simple to a fault", and is inherently pejorative.
* A '''sprite''', for video game terms, is a 2D image in video games that is completely flat and lacks 3D angles. People who have little knowledge on video game definitions assume that all characters that one sees in a game are sprites, which is not completely true; people confused 3D '''models''' for sprites and a model is a 3D shape that can be viewed from any angle. Some games like ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' invoke a 2D style, but most of them use 3D character models that are flattened down so they look 2D.
* For video games, '''graphics''' is what a viewer sees on their display or monitor. Many people assume that "graphics" means what the video game looks like. In actuality, people usually mean the game's visual style when they describe a game's graphics.
* '''Open Beta''' and '''Closed Beta''' get heavily confused when people try to differentiate the two terms. A beta that is closed off to the public means that only people who get handpicked by developers via invites, a dedicated team formed to test the beta, and/or has a limited amount of slots available if the developers needs just a certain amount of people. An open beta means it's fully open to the public and anyone can take part without slots being limited. Some video games are available in its beta state and sometimes players can buy the game as such to test the game and keep the final version of the game once it is finished. Technically speaking, a "paid, open beta" is an oxymoron, since "beta test" is defined as a test of a computer product prior to wide commercial release. No matter what a company tries to tell you, once they're accepting money from the general public, they're selling a product, not conducting a beta test (although the line gets blurry in cases where the beta costs money, but is cheaper than the final release, such as ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}''). This is further confused by the fact that "beta" used to imply that the software was "incomplete" in some way; in the modern world of seamless online patches and updates, no software product is ever "complete" until the company stops issuing new patches and updates, often years after the product has come out of beta.
* Political ideologies in general suffer from a lot of confusion which can make discussions very hard. The confusion of what '''left''' and '''right''' actually mean, for example, or what is the relationship between '''conservatism''' and economic policies, or perhaps the most confusing word '''liberal''' which has different meanings in different countries which can, at worst, be the opposite of each other.
* '''[[UsefulNotes/HighFunctioningAutism Autistic]]''', at least on the Internet, gets used to mean "'retarded' only less so" more and more often in recent years - while less for perceived stupidity and more for social awkwardness (so you'll never find someone calling an inanimate object autistic even online), the general effect is the same. "Autistic" can also be used to refer to someone who has an exceptional focus on a particular activity, even if the person being described does not have an autism spectrum disorder at all. This is most likely due to the {{GIFT}}; anonymity means both that people feel freer to use "autistic" to mean "asshole" despite the UnfortunateImplications, and that people feel freer to use autism as an excuse for ''being'' an asshole (whether they're actually diagnosed or not), which only perpetuates the stereotype.
* '''AsymmetricMultiplayer''', as originally defined by Creator/{{Nintendo}} in reference to certain UsefulNotes/WiiU games, is a multiplayer mode in which the different players have totally different roles and capabilities, unlike most multiplayer games, where all the players are generally doing the same thing and playing the game the same way. This does ''not'' include games where players can be different characters (e.g., a magic user and a sword user) with slightly different abilities but carry out essentially the same goal in the same way. This instead refers to games where the roles, abilities and gameplay experience are drastically different. Misuse of the term became an issue with ''VideoGame/StarTrekTheVideoGame'' and several other games revealed and/or discussed in the period during/after [=E3=] 2012, when the development teams for the games claimed that their CoOpMultiplayer counted as Asymmetric Multiplayer (probably stemming from a desire to [[FollowTheLeader ride on the coattails of the initial Wii U hype]]).
* '''AIDS''' is often used to refer to the notorious sexually-transmitted disease that cripples the host's immune system. "AIDS" stands for '''a'''cquired '''i'''mmuno'''d'''eficiency '''s'''yndrome, and many people don't understand the "syndrome" part. You cannot ''catch'' AIDS; rather, you are reduced to it by being infected with the aforementioned STD, which by the way is called HIV ('''h'''uman '''i'''mmunodeficiency '''v'''irus), and having it beat the snot out of your immune cells. It is possible for someone to have HIV, but not AIDS, so long as their immune system is still intact. In addition, no one dies from AIDS - they die from ''complications'' related to the condition. (Simiarly, no one can die from alcholism, either. They can only die from ''complications'' due to it, such as cirrhosis of the liver.)
* '''Maltese cross''' is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_cross a eight-pointed cross]] which has the form of four "V"-shaped elements joined at the center, most famously used by UsefulNotes/TheKnightsHospitallers. Colloquially, however, the term "maltese cross" is sometimes applied to the ''cross pattée'', [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_patt%C3%A9e a cross which has arms narrower at the centre]], and broader at the perimeter, most often associated with the Prussian and German military usage.
* '''Scandinavia''': UsefulNotes/{{Finland}} and UsefulNotes/{{Iceland}} are not Scandinavian countries, though they are sometimes referred to as such. Scandinavia consists of UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}}, UsefulNotes/{{Norway}}, and UsefulNotes/{{Denmark}}. (They are, however, part of the Nordic region, as are the Scandinavian countries. There's also a distinction between Scandinavia--a political-cultural concept--and the Scandinavian Peninsula, a geographical feature which excludes Denmark but includes part of Finland.) Finns, for their part are neither Scandinavian nor Nordic in the ethnic sense; some anthropologists go so far as to describe them as Eurasian, given their common ancestry with certain Siberian (Asiatic Russian) peoples.
* '''Sex[=/=]Gender''': The distinction between sex and gender. The sexes (male and female) as the two divisions in which many organisms are placed, based upon their reproductive role and the genders (masculine and feminine) referring to ''social'' characteristics (such as behavioral norms) associated with males and females, respectively. The use of gender to mean the same thing as sex [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender#Etymology_and_usage dates back to the 14th century]], whereas the use of gender to mean gender roles only dates to John Money's work in the 1950s. So it is not incorrect by any stretch for people to continue using the original meaning of the word (which in fact still precedes the gender roles [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender meaning in the dictionary]] ).
** The distinction between transgenderism and transsexuality does not necessarily have anything to do with genitals or whether or not someone has had sex reassignment surgery (SRS). "Transgender" is usually understood as an umbrella term for anyone whose sex and gender aren't totally congruent, or who strongly deviates from gender norms. "Transsexual" means someone who permanently transitions from one gender to another, usually through medical treatments like hormones and surgery as well as social and legal changes, but no individual step is necessary for being transsexual. SRS doesn't have much to do with it. Many transsexuals can't have SRS or choose not to. Furthermore, "transgender" is already an adjective. Saying "transgendered" is simply redundant.
* The words '''nemesis''' and '''archenemy''' are synonyms, as both words mean "one's greatest enemy". The "arch" modifier in "archenemy" signifies "greatest", while the word "nemesis" doesn't require a modifier because it already means "one's greatest enemy" by itself. "Arch-nemesis" is not only incorrect but [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment redundant]], since it would mean "one's greatest greatest enemy".
* The term '''pay to win''' is used in many video games that entices the player to buy items or enhancements with real life money in order to have an easier time in beating the game or getting a step ahead of the competition. Many free to play games are designed to be frustrating to play normally and have heavy restrictions on what the player can do unless the person forks over money to gain and advantage. Pay to win is also applied to competitive games where a player can buy enhancements to defeat their opponents with little effort, thus only people with money to burn can beat everyone else that didn't pay. However, people often use pay to win on any video game with DLC that contains new weapons or other items, even if the game itself can be played just fine without the extra content, the DLC content themselves being on par with vanilla content, or if the game lacks any competitive aspect. The term in general carries negative connotations, with the implication that those that pay real life money have advantages that cannot be obtained by those that play for free. People have also used "pay to win" when it comes to buying cosmetic items in a game where said items do nothing to enhance the player's game other than simply changing how they look because some people believe obtaining all the items in the game is a way of "winning".
* The words '''atom''' and '''molecule''', and their derived terms ("molecular", etc.) are not synonymous. Molecules are structures formed from atoms. By strict usage, "molecule" only refers to structures held together by covalent bonds, so e.g. a block of metal is not made of molecules - its atoms are connected by metallic bonds.
** A molecule is also not the same as a mixture. In a molecule, atoms are chemically bonded together but in a mixture they are not. For example, air is (mostly) a ''mixture'' of nitrogen and oxygen, as it contains nitrogen and oxygen ''molecules''.
* In the Wiki/SCPFoundation notably, you will very often see the word '''amnesiac''' referring to substances that cause loss of memory. An amnesiac is actually a ''person'' suffering from amnesia. A substance causing amnesia would be an '''amnestic'''. However the word is so deeply rooted in SCP terminology that it's all but impossible to do anything about it. The Wiki only told newer authors that they prefer using "amnestic" instead of "amnesiac", but would forgive any uses of the latter.
* Challenging times can make it hard to make '''ends meet'''. No food item called '''ends meat''' (or '''end's meat''') has ever existed, outside of phonetic incomprehension or [[{{Feghoot}} stories that end with absolutely horrid puns]]. Imagine trying to tie a rope or cord around something with insufficient or barely sufficient length (or, conversely, with plentiful length, though it's usually only mentioned in the context of scarcity), and you'll understand the sensation the phrase is meant to convey.
* '''Niggardly''' is a perfectly innocent word meaning "stingy, miserly, not generous." It does not have nor has it ever had any connection to a certain [[NWordPrivileges infamous racial slur]]-- its origins date back to the 1300s by way of Old Norse, long before the African slave trade was a thing-- except that unfortunately it kind of ''sounds'' like that word. (Etymologically, it's related not to the N-word but to "niggle" as in nitpick, quibble about small details.) Sure enough, well-meaning but small-vocabularied people who succumb to PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad have [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22 created many controversies about it]], to the point that it's probably wiser to avoid it altogether today.
* A '''regimen''' is a health-related routine, such as diet, exercise, and/or medicine. A '''regiment''' is a military unit (traditionally commanded by a colonel). A '''regime''' is a government or leadership (usually with negative, authoritarian connotations). These three words often end up shuffled into one another's places.
* '''Android''', '''cyborg''' and '''robot''' are not synonyms, as a quick glance at their respective etymologies should make clear. "Android" is derived from the Greek prefix ''"andro"'' ("man") and the suffix ''"oid"'' ("resembling"), and it means "An artificial creation built in the likeness of a human. "Cyborg" is a contraction of "cybernetic organism", and it means "A lifeform with a combination of organic and mechanical body parts". "Robot" is derived from the Russian ''"rabota"'' ("to work"), and it means "An autonomous machine built to perform a specific task". The term ''android'' technically refers to an artificial life form that resembles a male human. The female equivalent would be a ''gynoid''.
* Something's '''inception''' is its beginning. Courtesy of [[{{Film/Inception}} the eponymous movie]], this is widely misunderstood. Since a great deal of the movie revolves around dreams within dreams--and later, by MemeticMutation, anything within the same thing--a lot of people have, by association, gotten the idea it means the latter.[[note]] In the movie, "inception" refers to the '''ends''' of the protagonist's mission, not its '''means'''; they call it "inception" because they're trying to give their target a radical new idea, which will begin a new phase in his life.[[/note]]
* A '''desert''' is any place with low rainfall and vegetation, regardless of the climate. Thus, Antarctica is a desert.
* A '''Good Samaritan Law''' is not a law which compels someone to help a person in jeopardy. That is a '''Duty To Rescue''' law. A Good Samaritan law grants legal protection to anyone who attempts to help another person in the midst of a crisis. There have indeed been cases where someone offering aid was later sued by the person they attempted to help.
* '''Centurion''' is not an all-encompassing term for a soldier in Ancient Rome; it was an upper-level rank in the Roman military (roughly analogous to "Captain" or "Major") specifically designating the commander of a '''Century''' (a unit of around 100 soldiers, hence the name). A baseline Roman soldier (analogous to "Private") was a '''Legionary''' (not '''Legionnaire'''; that comes from the FrenchForeignLegion).
* For the term '''let alone''' as in "X is not Y, let alone Z", Y should be the ''less'' far-fetched idea. For example, "bronze is not as valuable as silver, let alone gold." Sometimes, the opposite gets used, that is, "bronze is not as valuable as gold, let alone silver."
** The same rule applies when two entities are specified, such as [[VideoGame/HalfLife "I never thought I'd see a resonance cascade, let alone create one"]]
* For United States citizens, '''Freedom of Speech''' means a person has the right to criticize and speak out against the government without needing to fear repercussions from said government. It does not mean "I cannot be silenced for saying anything I want to" since you can get in trouble for saying something that implies a threat to someone else (even if you claim to be joking), nor does it allow you to say something offensive on a privately owned web site whose owner(s) have the full right to ban you for breaking their rules.[[note]]To put it in a way that's relatable to Tropers in the U.S.: If one were to vandalize or make otherwise grossly-unacceptable edits to the TV Tropes Wiki, no part of the First Amendment disallows the wiki staff from banning the offending Troper.[[/note]]
** To suggest otherwise is like saying the right to Freedom Of Assembly [[InsaneTrollLogic means you can have a party at someone else's house without permission whenever you want]]
* '''Emigrate''' and '''Immigrate''' refer to the same concept, but the difference between the two words is that "emigrate" refers to moving ''out'' of a country while "immigrate" refers to moving ''into'' one. '''Export''' and '''Import''' are a similar source of confusion regarding objects rather than people. Think of it as like "exhale" and "inhale".
* '''Semantics''' is literally the study of meanings of words and phrases, and how they relate to the phonetic strings used to convey them. When you say about two different terms, ‘This is semantics,’ you are in fact saying they mean two different things rather than that the difference is negligible. Similarly, you could say that:
** the difference between ‘cat’ as an animal and ‘cat’ as a jazz player is semantic;
** the difference between ‘pray’ and ‘prey’ is semantic, orthographic (i.e. in writing), and syntactic (you can’t pray on someone, at least not in the same meaning);
** the difference between ‘kid’ and ‘child’ is phonological (they’re obviously pronounced differently) and orthographic, and while the difference is, for the most part, not semantic (i.e. both terms refer to a human between the ages of 2~3 and ~12, although the former could also mean ‘young goat’), it is also pragmatic (i.e. you wouldn’t use the former in formal conversation);
** The difference between Missouri (‘miz-ZURR-ree’) and Missouri (‘miz-ZURR-ruh’) is purely phonological/dialectical.
* The term '''reboot''' is sometimes used in reference to a new installment of a franchise that differs from the original in terms of art style or premise, when the term specifically applies to [[ContinuityReboot an adaptation that restarts continuity for the sake of telling a new interpretation of the franchise's characters and events]]. If the new series is still in continuity with the original incarnation, then it would be a '''revival''' (some people distinguish between the former and latter using the terms '''hard reboot''' and '''soft reboot''').
* '''Arab''' refers to people who speak Arabic. It is not a term for Muslims in general (There are Christian, Druze, and even Jewish Arabs, and most Muslims come from non Arab countries). Similar, Afghanis [[note]] who speak primarily Pashto and Dari, types of Persian. [[/note]]. Iranians [[note]] Who speak Persian [[/note]] or Pakistanis [[note]] Who have multiple languages, but primarily speak Urdu, a language related to Hindi[[/note]] are not Arabs, although all use a similar script to Arabic.
* '''Hindu''' refers to the [[UsefulNotes/{{Hinduism}} religion]], as well as an individual who practices it. '''Hindi''' refers to the language. Also, just because something is Indian doesn't mean it's Hindi or Hindu. There are multiple Indian religions and languages that share only a small if any similarity to Hindi. However, Hindu is also used as a synonym for someone from India.
* A '''Monkey''' is a type of primate, usually one with tails that live in trees. An '''Ape''' (which includes gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans) is not considered a monkey, although they belong in the same suborder (Catarrhini) as Old World Monkeys. Apes don't have a tail, have larger brains than monkeys, and tend to be larger than most monkeys. '''Simian''' refers to both apes and monkeys. Lampshaded in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' where the Librarian, an Orangutan, is annoyed at being called a Monkey.
* In common use, '''rape''' and '''sexual assault''' are used interchangeably. '''Sexual assault''' is defined as any physical sexual contact perpetrated against a person without their consent or otherwise against their will. '''Rape''' is a specific form of sexual assault involving penetration.
* '''Semen''' is the liquid that comes out during male ejaculation. '''Sperm''' are specifically the male reproductive cells which are present in the semen of fertile males. It is indeed possible to ejaculate semen without sperm if he's infertile.
* '''Parasite''' is sometimes used, especially in fiction, to refer to something that drains life from its host, even to the point of death. Real parasites try not to kill their hosts; lethal "parasites" are actually called pathogens ([[ThePlague diseases]]) or [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitoid parasitoids]].
* '''Geneva Conventions''' are the international conventions binding their signatories to observe specific conduct toward refugees, captives and prisoners in the time of war. It has nothing to do with the agreement to abstain from the use of some types of weapons as this subject is covered by the '''Hague Conventions'''.
* '''Remake''' and '''remaster''' are used interchangeably in the video game field whenever a video game from the past gets rereleased with improved graphical fidelity. A '''remake''' is a video game that is rebuilt from the ground up with the intention of adding/changing levels, rewriting the story, and using new gameplay mechanics that couldn't have been done in the original game. A '''remaster''' is simply taking the same video game and giving it a visual upgrade (and possibly a new feature or two) while everything else remains the same.
* '''Samurai''' is not a synonym for a traditional Japanese warrior but it specifically means a warrior who is bound by feudal agreement with a lord. A vassal in other words. A general word for any person belonging to warrior caste is ''bushi''. A ''bushi'' serving no lord is called ''ronin''.
** Similarly, a knight is technically not a heavily-armed and armored (and possibly mounted) warrior in the medieval-European style - the term refers to an individual of that time period within the social class of knight, which was lower nobility and inevitably could fight in the aforementioned style. There actually is a term for a warrior capable of fighting with a lance in heavy armor upon a horse, independent of their social class: A man-at-arms. Interestingly, etymology seems to indicate that the term knight was originally used around this loosely before the social class arose and the term man-at-arms then came around for the difference.
* Television announcers in both the US and Canada routinely use the word '''common-law''' husband or wife to denote the person someone is living with. The act of cohabitation, no matter how long, ''never'' creates a legal relationship in the U.S., and only rarely in Canada.
* '''Vapid''': A word meaning "uninspired", "vacuous", or "bland", that has come to be used heavily by the online community for movies they don't like. Becomes hilarious (or infuriating) when the thing about the movie that turns them off is the exact opposite of being vapid. ie. it is inspired and deep, but goes in a direction the person doesn't care for.
* '''Exeunt''' is not a fancy synonym for '''exit'''. Etymologically, "exit" is the third-person singular present active indicative of the Latin verb ''exeō'', and "exeunt" its third-person plural present active indicative. Thus, in stage directions, "exit" is used for only one actor (e.g., Exit Hamlet), and "exeunt" for two or more (e.g., Exeunt Romeo and Juliet).
* A '''crescendo''' is NOT the loud climax of a piece of music or other sound -- the word you want is, well, '''climax.''' ''Crescendo'' (Italian: "I wax, I grow greater") refers to the ''process of getting louder'', an increase in volume over time, which ultimately may lead to a climax (or instead subside again in a '''decrescendo.''') "The noise rose to a crescendo" is flat-out wrong, in fact semi-redundant (rather like "His speed increased to an acceleration"), and will produce winces among the musically-trained.
* '''{{Muppet}}''', apart from use as an insult, is repeatedly used (even on Wiki/ThisVeryWiki!) to refer to advanced rubber puppets of the type seen in ''Film/TheDarkCrystal'' and ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. In reality, Creator/JimHenson himself said that those characters are not Muppets, but rather [[http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Muppets_vs_Creatures Creatures]]. ''Muppet'' refers specifically to the felt-type characters seen in ''Series/SesameStreet'', ''Series/TheMuppetShow'' and ''Series/FraggleRock'', because they are a {{Portmanteau}} of "marionette" and "puppet".[[note]]What about Big Bird? Or is that a costume?[[/note]] It's also a trademarked name, meaning that if Creator/{{Disney}} (the currect rights holder for the name) doesn't say something is a Muppet, it's not a Muppet. (*Cough*[[Franchise/StarWars Yoda]]*cough*)
* Contrary to what some believe, '''arbitrary''' does not mean the same thing as "random" or "ever-changing." It refers to a decision, definition, or policy which ''lacks a basis in prior precedent''. It is true that policies based largely on arbitration usually change rapidly and seemingly at random, but that is only a side effect. It is not the definition of the word.
* Being '''agnostic''' does not mean that a person is "undecided" about the existence of a god; it means that they believe that that both the existence or nonexistence of the divine is ''inherently'' unknowable. This is the reason for the word's Greek etymology: it comes from the prefix ''"a-"'' (meaning "lacking" or "without") and the root word ''"gnosis"'' (meaning "knowledge").[[note]] Technically, it should also be pronounced "AY-noss-tick" rather than "AGG-noss-tick", since the "g" is silent in the Greek word ''"gnosis"''. But that's another issue.[[/note]]
* "Please '''bare''' with me". No, I don't know you well enough. But if you like, I'll try and '''bear''' with you (in the metaphorical sense of following where you're going).
* '''[[VirusMisnomer Virus]]''' and '''bacteria'''[[note]] Also note that 'bacteria' is a plural, with the the singular form being 'bacterium'- but that's another issue. [[/note]] are often used interchangeably to mean 'pathogen' (i.e. a microorganism that causes disease), but are actually specific types of microorganism and are very different. Viruses are non-living, can only replicate inside host cells, are always pathogenic, and are far smaller than bacteria. In contrast, bacteria are alive, can reproduce by themselves, and are far larger than viruses. In addition, many of them are not pathogenic- your skin is literally covered with mostly harmless bacteria. Viruses and bacteria also cause different diseases, which is a fact many people ignore- for example, people worry about bacteria from people with flu, even though flu is a viral disease.
* '''Fluid''' is not a synonym of '''liquid''', as a fluid is anything that can flow. This includes liquids, gases and plasma.
* '''Sulphur''' is an element which, under standard conditions, is a yellow solid, which means it does not have a smell because in order for a substance to have a smell it has to be a gas. However, many people still compare smelly things to sulphur (for example, by saying that something which smells bad "smells like sulphur"). The misconception that sulphur has a smell may have arisen from confusion between sulphur, sulphur dioxide (which is formed when sulphur burns) and hydrogen sulphide (which decomposes to form elemental sulphur, meaning it's often found near sulphur), as the latter two chemicals are both odourants.
** And while we're on the subject, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the body in charge of chemical nomenclature, spells it "sulfur". (This was a compromise between British and American English speakers, in exchange for the British English spelling of "aluminium".)
* A '''[[LoopholeAbuse loophole]]''' is an unintentional gap or grey area in the law usually caused by inadequate descriptions and definitions. A '''provision''' or an '''exemption''' [[note]]The later term usually refers to taxes while the former refers to everything else[[/note]] is a written in exception to the law and is very much intentional. Provisions and exemptions are often mistaken for loopholes, especially by people seeking to remove provisions. For example only a small minority of corporate tax "loopholes" are actually loopholes while the rest are very much intentional tax exemptions.
* A '''softlock''' is a particular kind of software freeze, in which the program still runs, but none of the user's input is functional. Beginning in 2017, some members of the ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' fandom have been using the word to refer to situations where the player cannot progress farther in the game, which is better known as being "{{unwinnable}}", or just plain "getting stuck". The root of this confusion appears to be that around that time, the [=YouTuber=] WebVideo/{{Pikasprey}} Yellow uploaded a video titled "How to Escape Lorelei's Game-Ending Softlock", about one possible unwinnable scenario which completely takes control away from the player thanks to a design oversight, making it a true softlock. From this, his watchers generalized the word to ''all'' cases of UnwinnableByInsanity, even though none of the others qualify. Pikasprey himself has since begun a new video series titled "[=SoftlockPicking=]", about his Houdini-esque ways of escaping these "unwinnable" situations the viewers get him into, which unfortunately would appear to spread and perpetuate this incorrect usage.
* '''Lava''' and '''magma''', while related, are not one and the same. Lava is molten liquid rock that has been expelled from a volcano and is flowing on the surface whereas magma is the same substance that's inside the volcano and has not ejected to the surface. Due to lava being used to describe magma in most video games and films, lava is used as the catch all term for liquid rock no matter where it's situated.
* '''Refute''' means ''to provide evidence to prove falsehood''. If somebody insists they are refuting a claim demand they do so.
* A '''run-on sentence''' is not "a very long sentence". A run-on sentence is a grammatical error when two independent clauses either lack proper punctuation separating them, or a period indicating that they are two sentences.[[labelnote:e.g.]]"I went to the market Jane went home." is a run-on sentence. It can be corrected either by adding a comma and a coordinating conjunction ("I went to the market, and Jane went home."), a semicolon or similar punctuation ("I went to the market; Jane went home."), or by making it two sentences with a period ("I went to the market. Jane went home.").[[/labelnote]]. A three thousand word-long sentence can still be grammatical, and won't be a run-on sentence as long as it uses proper punctuation and coordinating conjunctions.
* '''Beta''' or '''beta male''' is often used to mean "man who isn't manly enough", however this is inconsistent with actual animal behavior. In a pack the betas serve more as the NumberTwo to the alpha, but still outrank the rest of the pack and may even [[KlingonPromotion kill their masters and take over]]. The most common example of the alpha/beta male dynamic, wolf packs, is also itself a DeadUnicornTrope. Wolf packs in the wild are simply families, and the alpha male and female are the parents. The researcher who first popularized that theory, L. David Mech, was observing wolves in zoos, where unrelated canines are grouped together and they take on more of a prison mentality. Mech eventually renounced the theory once he saw that wolves in the wild don't act that way.
* People often confuse '''Negative reinforcement''' with punishment. It actually means rewarding someone by taking ''away'' a bad thing, e.g. "Do what we say and we'll take your handcuffs off." In operant conditioning, the phrase "negative reinforcement" makes a pair with "positive reinforcement"; they both "reinforce", that is they both increase the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated. "Positive" and "negative" here do not carry the meaning of "good" and "bad", but rather the mathematical meaning of "adding" and "taking away". Therefore:
** Positive reinforcement: adding a stimulus to increase the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You cleaned your room! Here's some candy."''
** Negative reinforcement: removing a stimulus to increase the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You cleaned your room! I'll stop nagging you about it."''
** Positive punishment: adding a stimulus to decrease the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You left dirty clothes everywhere again! You're grounded."''
** Negative punishment: removing a stimulus to decrease the likelihood that a behavior is repeated; ''"You left dirty clothes everywhere again! You're not getting your allowance this week."''
* '''Terminal velocity''' is the speed at which a falling object doesn't accelerate any further no matter how long it falls, because drag and buoyancy are cancelling any further acceleration. A meteor, for example, does ''not'' reach terminal velocity at any point - it's already moving faster than that when it enters the atmosphere, and goes through it too quickly to slow down. The term also has nothing to do with the degree of lethality of the falling thing's impact, either to the item itself or to whatever it falls on.
* The term '''graphic novel''' is sometimes said to mean either "a comic book for adults" or "a comic book that's longer than single monthly issue". The actual definition is "A long-form work of graphic fiction that's published as a single volume rather than serialized". There are quite a few graphic novels written for children and young readers (''[[ComicBook/SmileandSisters Smile]]'' and ''ComicBook/AmericanBornChinese'' are two notable examples), and many long-form works of graphic fiction are originally published as multiple single issues before being collected and bound. Case in point: Creator/AlanMoore's ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'' and Creator/NeilGaiman's ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' are often referred to as graphic novels, but they're actually not; ''Watchmen'' is a multi-part limited series that was originally published in single-issue installments before being collected as a single volume, while the ''Sandman'' series was originally an ongoing monthly comic book before it was published as a series of paperback collections.
* '''Unique''' means one of a kind. It does ''not'' mean unusual or special. Thus being "more unique" is like being "more pregnant" it just doesn't make sense. You ''could'' however say "almost unique" if there are only two of the thing in question.
* '''Infinitesimal''' means really small ''not'' really big. (think "infinitely small").
* Members of the far right often use '''Cultural Marxism''' (or '''Post-modern Neomarxism''') to mean "anything I don't like." While Cultural Marxism ''was'' a real denomination of Marxism taught at the Frankfurt School, the term in this far-right context characterizes the ideas and motivations of any number of different left-wing groups, many of whom are not aligned with each other or with the Frankfurt School, or similar in any way. Used in this way, the term has no meaning aside from being a piece of political invective. If it is understood to mean "the left," then it is imprecise and leads to the impression that the left are a unified Marxist front, which is ridiculous to anyone on the left, or anyone who has observed the left at any length: the left is quite as diverse and prone to infighting as the right, as it is defined as half of the left-right political spectrum. To sum up: neither of the words is particularly meaningful in that phrase as it is used by the far right.
* '''Atheism''' is lack of belief in a god or gods, while '''agnostic''' means being unsure whether there are any god(s). '''Nontheism''' usually refers to religions which don't have any gods, such as Buddhism.
* '''Prodigal''' is the opposite of "thrifty" or "frugal", meaning "wasteful", "frivolous", "Given to reckless or irresponsible spending" or "Living beyond one's means". But the most famous use of the word--by far--is in "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" from [[Literature/TheFourGospels the Gospel of Luke]], a story about an irresponsible young man who returns home to his parents after carelessly spending all of his money and winding up destitute. Because of this, it's often assumed to mean "Making a much-anticipated return after a long absence". But the Prodigal Son was "prodigal" because he spent all of his money, not because he was welcomed home by his parents afterwards.
* The idiom '''The exception proves the rule''' is often misused as a HandWave for any inconsistency in a person's argument, despite how this makes no sense [[FridgeLogic if you actually think about it]], e.g., If someone says "all birds are black" does the existence of doves prove they're right? Of course not. The real meaning of the saying is more akin to "the exception proves the rule applies by default" i.e if you see a sign at an intersection that says "no U-turn" you can infer that a U-turn is permitted whenever there ''isn't'' a sign forbidding it.
* '''Circa''' means "approximately" and is usually used to refer to dates. Therefore, you shouldn't use it when the exact date or other number is known: "[[AliceAndBob Alice was born circa 1987]]" is fine, "Alice was born circa May 5th, 1987" is not.
* A '''reprisal''' is an attack, particularly in warfare, carried out in retaliation for a previous attack. It is ''not'' the repetition of a musical number or a performance; that would be a '''reprise'''. Even Wiki/ThisVeryWiki made this mistake in the title of the trope RoleReprise, which was titled "Role Reprisal" for years.
* '''Real''' is an adjective, '''really''' is an adverb. While the former is often used in place of the latter (e.g., "She's a real nice girl"), this is considered colloquial at best and straight up wrong at worst, unless you meant she is a girl who is both nice and real as in not imaginary.
* By the same token: '''bad''' is an adjective and '''badly''' is an adverb. Thus, you ''probably'' mean you feel '''bad'''. To feel '''badly''' would mean your ability to feel is impaired.
* To '''earn''' money means to be given it in exchange for performing some work, service etc. To be given money for nothing is to simply '''get''' money.
* '''Brainchild''' refers to the concept or product created by a brain, not the owner of the brain doing the creating. For example, the World Wide Web is the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, not the other way round. The logical inverse would be something like '''brainparent''' but that's never caught on.
* '''Satire''' is not synonymous with "a joke", as people often misuse it to mean when saying "that was just satire", to mean "that was just a joke" (sometimes as a JustJokingJustification, though just as often out of ignorance). Satire has to be poking fun at a specific thing (be it a work of fiction or something in real life.) For example, the film ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' is a satire of ''Franchise/StarWars'', but just calling any comedy a satire is incorrect.
* To '''Care About''' someone is to have sympathy for them or concern for their well being. To '''Care For''' someone is either to literally take care of the person, or, idiomatically, to like that person or thing.
* '''Mansplaining''' is when a man condescendingly explains a subject to a woman, especially if it's a subject where she has expertise ("Whitesplaining," "Straightsplaining," "Cis-splaining," and others are related terms). Certain...sectors of social media have begun using that word ''any'' time a man disagrees with a woman online, regardless of his own expertise or any legit points he makes.
* '''People of Color''' refers to all racial minorities in countries where whites are the majority. It is not just a "nice" way to refer to black people.
* '''Deign''' isn't a "fancier" way of saying "dare". It means to do something you feel is beneath you, such as: "I didn't deign to respond to such a stupid comment."
* A '''Majority''' is over half, or 50 percent. A '''Supermajority''' is over two thirds, or about 66.6 percent. A '''Plurality''' is more than any other group/category etc, although less than 50 percent (e.g., if candidate A gets 40 percent of the votes, and the other three candidates get 20 percent each, candidate A gets the plurality of the votes).
* For some reason, it's become fashionable for people on the internet to use '''Classical Liberal''' to mean something like "conservative-lite". The correct meaning of "Classical Liberalism" is something more like what's now called '''Libertarianism.'''
* A train's '''Conductor''' is not its driver. That would be the '''Engineer.''' Conductors are the attendants who check tickets and assist passengers during the trip.
* '''Millenials''' are a generation of people born somewhere between the early 80's and the mid-90's. It does not mean "young person." If anything, the generation is approaching middle age.
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Moderately Pedantic]]
* '''Addict''' in adjective form is "addictive". However, clumsy attempts to mangle it into this form tend to fall to "addicting" instead, which is actually a gerund (which is a noun) or even a verb, but not an adjective. To put it simply, if you were to say "Cocaine is addicting" you would be implying that cocaine is, right now, in the process of getting someone addicted. While that may be true it's probably not what the speaker actually meant to say.
** In technical medical terms, "addictive" refers only to substances which, when their use by a habitual users is discontinued, result in physical withdrawal symptoms. Thus you get people insisting that things like marijuana and [=MMOs=] are not "addictive," which is [[ExactWords technically true]] for a given definition of "addictive," but does not address the more realistic concern that they might be ''habit-forming'' to an unhealthy degree in some users.
** Even more confusingly, there is a distinction sometimes made between addiction and '''dependence'''. Addiction here means that you have cravings for something if deprived of it; dependence means that you will have withdrawal symptoms; but being dependent on something (like a medication) does not necessarily mean you are addicted to it, and being addicted to something does not mean you are dependent on it (note this is almost the opposite of the definition above). For example, a diabetic is ''dependent'' on insulin, but not addicted to it.
* '''Anarchy''' literally means "without a ruler", coming from the roots "an-" or "no" and "archy" or "rule". Anarchism is a political position opposed to government as well as to other forms of hierarchy or authority. Anarchists believe that social harmony can be more easily maintained through cooperation rather than competition. However, the word "anarchy" has come to mean the opposite: [[AnarchyIsChaos a state of violent chaos due to a lack of central authority]]. The word "anarchist" has also been used to mean a [[BombThrowingAnarchists terrorist or sower of discord]], a perception influenced by a rash of terrorist acts and assassinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which were committed by anarchists. And even theorists [[WeAREStrugglingTogether didn't always agree anyway]] on what it means:
--> "Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has so often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions, which are always straining after higher forms of expression, and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fixed goal." — Rudolf Rocker, [[http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Rudolf_Rocker__Anarchosyndicalism.html Anarcho-Syndicalism]], 1938.
** To be even more precise, 'anarchy' comes from 'an-' (not) and 'arche' (higher/highest), meaning a form of social organization, with no one standing above anyone else. It is a regime without a ruler, but not without rules. A direct democracy, where every conflict is solved by a common voting by people who have equal vote (or a common consensus) is an example of anarchy.
* '''Anorexia''' is often used as a term for a serious eating disorder that causes strong aversion to food, which can lead to severe (or even ''fatal'') malnutrition if left untreated. On its own, though, "anorexia" just means "loss of appetite", and it's generally a ''symptom'' of disease rather than a disease in itself. The eating disorder is formally known as ''"Anorexia nervosa"'', but it's often called "anorexia" for short.
* '''Artificial Intelligence''' is, as its name implies, a machine that acts as if it's intelligent: ask most computer scientists and they'll tell you that one big important factor in determining whether a machine can be called an AI is whether it's capable of learning (specifically, being able to change and adapt its strategies when it receives new information). However, outside of computer technology and especially when it comes to games AI has simply come to mean "the computer", which can irk computer scientists as the computer isn't "intelligent" but just following a giant list of "''if X, then do Y''" instructions.
* '''Asian''' is a term denoting an origin in the continent of Asia, ranging from most of the Middle East to the Orient. In British usage, it is a common term used to denote a South Asian origin (ex. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka), and the term Oriental is used to denote an East Asian origin. In Australian and American usage, it refers to the Far East (ex. China, Japan, Thailand, Vietman and Korea), and the term Oriental is offensive in North America. '''Oriental''' traditionally referred to the countries east of the Middle East, meaning such places as Turkey and India. In fact, the Orient Express only went as far as Istanbul in its heyday.
** And essentially no one considers Russians to be Asian even though 77% of Russia falls within the continent of Asia (to be fair, though, despite the majority of Russia being in Asia, the majority of ''Russians'' live in Europe).
* Before being adopted by 19th-century European and American "racial scientists" and subsquently Nazis and white supremacists, '''Aryan''' was originally the term of choice for Indo-Iranian peoples because they called themselves ''Arya''. Whatever Arya originally meant, it was more of socio-linguistic designation than an ethnic one. Some of them may have had blond hair, but the majority probably didn't. By this definition, then, the descendants of the Aryans can be found in countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran[[note]]Should be pretty obvious since Iran literally means, "Land of the Aryans."[[/note]], Tajikistan and Bangladesh. (In India, ''Aryan'' is opposed to ''Dravidian''.)
** The word itself means something akin to "well formed", from a root ''*ar-'' (which survives in the Greek ''aristos'', "best", and English ''art'', amongst others). As applied to the people themselves and their language, it probably carries the meaning "skillfully assembled, rightly proportioned, obeying the right customs" or similar, with the feeling of "one of us" (its precise opposite, ''anarya'', is frequently used to mean "wrong" or "other"). This, along with its status as the earliest attested Indo-European autonym, is one of the reasons it was adopted by white supremacists to label their racial ideal. It's more than likely that none of them had blond hair (this was considered a marker of specifically "Germanic" rather than Aryan heritage), because their origins were likely as nomads on the Pontic-Caspian steppe, where blond hair is rare.
** The Aryan Dravidian divide of India was deliberately created by Christian invaders as one of many efforts to prevent the areas they occupied from becoming [[DivideAndConquer too unified against them]]. Unique culture and language did develop in the Dravida region, obviously, but prior to colonization they were still accepted as Aryan. As the occupying powers were expelled an ongoing effort to reestablish the whole of India being Aryan began, taken up by Mahatma Gandhi no less, but success has been limited.
** Speaking of Aryans, the Nazis had a very, ah, ''unusual'' (read: arbitrary) definition of Aryan. They could never really decide if "Aryan" meant Indo-European, White European, Nordic/Germanic European, Non-Jewish European, and/or Non-Slavic European. They also classified a number of people as Aryan which even modern white supremacists would find a little puzzling. Many Germans liked Creator/KarlMay novels, so the Sioux became Aryans. For political convenience, the Japanese were Aryans. Nazi mythology placed the Aryan homeland in Tibet due to connection with Theosophy, so Tibetans were Aryans, too, even though the Tibetans are more closely related to the Burmese and Chinese than anyone else. Perhaps most bizarrely of all, the Nazis decided that their allies the Croats were Aryans whereas the ethnically identical Serbs were Slavic ''Untermenschen.''
* '''Censorship''' refers to a higher power, such as the government or a corporation, suppressing speech, or other forms of information, on the grounds that such material is harmful or offensive. Over time the phrase has been confused with the First Amendment (which doesn't even contain the ''word'' censorship), and it is now not uncommon to hear people say that censorship ''only'' refers to government censorship, as that is the only form of censorship the First Amendment protects you from.
* '''Depreciate''' means "to decrease in value." The extremely similar '''depre''cate''''' means "to become obsolete." Something can be depreciated without being deprecated, but not vice versa. Both words can mean "to belittle" or "to disparage", which really just adds to the confusion.
* '''Gay''' originally meant something closer to "carefree, with undertones of being unrestricted by social conventions". Later on, it was used to describe [[ReallyGetsAround sexually active women]], who were most definitely of the kind referred to as 'straight' today. It now describes homosexuals and is technically gender-neutral but mostly used for men. To top it off, it's seen heavy use as an insult lately.
** Some people that use Gay as an insult and are called out on it attempt to weasel out of the mess by saying they were using the [[HaveAGayOldTime "happy"]] version of the word.
* '''Gene''' is often used to mean "allele". An allele is one of multiple forms a gene assumes. For example, there is no human gene for brown hair; there's a gene for hair color in general, and one of its alleles results in brown hair. A valuable distinction for biologists, but not one that most people care about when they're at the movies.
* To draw from a [[Literature/TheBible Biblical]] parable, a '''Good Samaritan''' is someone who helps even those that persecute him. In Biblical times the Samaritans were an ethno-religious group that was shunned heavily by the Jewish people. This was the entire purpose of the parable: a Samaritan saved the life of a dying Jew, thereby proving that goodness is not constrained by ethnic, cultural, or religious boundaries; even people you hate can do good, and you should still do good even for people who hate you. However, due to a lack of context, many people simply assume "Good Samaritan" to mean any person who does good deeds for any reason. Even worse, some people drop the "good" and just use "Samaritan" to refer to any good person, even though it originally meant the opposite. To put it in a more nerdy way: the Comicbook/XMen, who fight to protect humanity even though humans despise them, are Good Samaritans. {{Superman}}, however, is ''not'' a Good Samaritan because he rarely if ever faces public persecution.
** Furthermore, considering the ethnic/religious group known as the Samaritans still exists, calling someone a "Samaritan" is the same thing as saying that they are a part of this group. Calling someone a "Good Samaritan" could be considered the same as calling someone a "[[YouAreACreditToYourRace Good Jew]]" or even a "[[UnfortunateImplications Good African]]." Not necessarily an insult, per se, but still very likely to offend some people.
* '''"I could care less"''' is incorrect according to the literal meaning of the words. The phrase you're looking for is '''"I couldn't care less"'''; by saying that you ''could'' care less, you're saying that you ''do'' care.
* A '''Libertarian''' and '''Libertarianism''' has been a synonym/euphemism for "Anarchism" as far back as the 1890s. Libertarian Athenaeums gave thousands of people access to basic education--including pioneering sexual education--and Libertarian Unions stood against the State and the Capitalist establishment. All this hasn't stopped the U.S. right-wing "libertarian" movement--which started in the late 1950s and is a staunch proponent of Capitalism--from claiming exclusive rights to both terms. While in a vacuum libertarianism shares most of the anarchist values, such as personal freedom with no state intervention, within mainstream politics libertarians normally are saying they want those things, but only as far as is reasonable within the current political system. They aren't incorrect to say that they are 'supporting liberty', but they don't want to tear down the democracy for it either. In essence, any political term that is used in the modern political mainstream needs to come with the rider 'but without wrecking democracy'. It would probably be more correct to call such people 'Democratic Libertarians', as they support the democratic system and individual liberty, but since they are a part of the democratic system it pretty much comes as read that they are OK with democratic politics.
* The phrase '''mano a mano''' is widely, but incorrectly, used to mean one-on-one (usually in the context of a fight or contest) - "man to man." This likely stems from "mano" being a [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_friend false friend]] for the English word "man." However, "mano" is actually Spanish for "hand." The phrase means "hand to hand," such as fighting in close quarters, and has nothing to do with the number of parties involved or the genders thereof.
* '''Melee''' means a confusing, chaotic hand-to-hand fight (possibly free-for-all — the word literally means "mixed", implying that the two sides fighting one another are mixed amongst themselves). In most VideoGames however, it seems to be applied in a way that just means 'close-quarters range/fight'. If you're playing some sort of strategy game in which fights of a one-on-one nature are rare if they ever happen, the word may have a reasonable context. In other games, probably not.
** Most video games just flat out refer to 'melee' weapons as the opposite of 'ranged' weapons and 'melee' itself as the opposite of 'casting spells' and/or 'shooting firearms'. In other words, in modern gaming parlance, the word 'melee' just means 'hand to hand'.
* '''Prodigal''' means "wasteful", not "wandering" or "long-lost". The Prodigal Son was the one who squandered his money; the wandering-and-returning happened in the process of his doing so. However, because of this parable, the word is very frequently understood to mean "lost".
** Alternately, some people use prodigal to mean that someone is bad family. Again, while the prodigal son could be considered to have been a bad son and a bad brother, that is still not the meaning of the term.
** Some people also use prodigal as an adjective form for the word "prodigy." While this is a bit understandable, as the two words do look similar, it is very wrong as the two words have nearly opposite meanings. For the record, the actual adjective form of prodigy is "prodigious."
* '''Race''', '''species''', '''phylum''', and basically everything else from TaxonomicTermConfusion. Using "race" when you mean "species" is often forgivable in fantasy settings; even in RealLife, we have expressions like "the human race." Using "phylum" when you mean "taxon" is worse.
** Doubly so on the fantasy setting point, as while "species" is fairly well defined in terms of viable reproduction, and while individual races, families, orders, classes, phyla and kingdoms are well defined in terms of particular phenotypical characteristics, there is no clear abstract definition (unlike for species) of when you should consider some novel set of similar creatures to constitute a new phylum (as opposed to a new class), meaning that the terms have little clear meaning outside an Earth biology context. If you say two distantly related alien species are part of the same phylum and I say they are merely part of the same kingdom, there is no principled way to resolve the dispute.
** Historically, the word "race" has been used to mean anything from all humanity to a single family line. In ''Literature/TheLuckOfBarryLyndon'', the title character at one point laments that it was not destined that he should leave any of "my race" on Earth after his death -- meaning, not humans, nor white people, nor Irish people, but people of the Barry family. On Wikipedia, one old map depicts "Races of the Austro-Hungarian Empire" -- meaning, nationalities, or ethnocultural groups with a common language -- Germans, Hungarians, Ukrainians, etc.; all of them would have been more or less the same colour. Before the mid-twentieth century, "race" could be applied to any group of living things that perpetuated itself. In the 18th century, people wrote of the "race of labourers" and the "race of tailors". That's why whenever we see a pre-1940 use of the word "race," we mustn't simply assume that it refers to skin color. When people of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries spoke of "racial purity" or "racial improvement," they could have simply meant advances in medical technology for a particular country's citizens. In particular, the full title of UsefulNotes/CharlesDarwin's opus is "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". The "Favoured Races" here pretty much means species, not the kind of "Favoured Races" Hitler was talking about.
** In modern times, a "race" is any group of people identified by specific physical traits that are deemed socially significant (as opposed to "ethnicity," which goes by cultural traits). With this in mind, race is a cultural construct, a judgment that the observer places on the observed, and not something with any basis in any somatic or genetic interpretation. Any attempts to create a taxonomy for race on the basis of physical appearance fails pretty quickly; after all, how black does one need to be "African," bearing in mind people of similar skin tones live on different continents. Are Indians Asian, with their dark skin and western facial features? The more specific the classification, the more members of that "race" are excluded; the fewer used, the more inaccurate such classifications get.
* '''Regime''' or '''[[GratuitousFrench Régime]]''' simply refers to ''any'' state government: the United States (a representative democratic republic) and North Korea (an odd mix of a ''de facto'' absolute monarchy, a totalitarian police state, and a pharaonic cult) are both regimes. In general usage, it is now mostly used to refer only to tyrannical, authoritarian, or repressive governments; political scholars have other definitions. In political theory it continues to mean "any form of government", and in international relations, it has come to mean "any political order of any kind, even if it isn't the government of a state" (e.g. "arms-control regime",[[note]]so the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and other treaties together form the "global arms-control regime"[[/note]] "river-management regime",[[note]]e.g. the various interrelated international agencies designed to manage the Danube from various angles: trade, environment, water supply, tourism...[[/note]] "regional security regime",[[note]]For instance, UsefulNotes/{{NATO}} and the various bilateral and multilateral security arrangements between the US, Canada, and the countries of Western Europe together make the North Atlantic/Western European regional security regime[[/note]] etc.)--this latter use of "regime" is the focus of "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regime_theory regime theory]]," one of the more important movements in international relations since the late 1990s.
* '''Siege''' is often used in media to mean simply "we're being attacked/invaded." To be under siege is to be surrounded by troops, and cut off from supplies so as to slowly starve until surrender. Unless the person is being surrounded or cut off from supplies, this doesn't really work.
* '''UFO''' stands for Unidentified Flying Object, meaning that there's something moving in the sky, but you're not sure what it is. If it's obvious that said object is an extraterrestrial spacecraft, then it has been identified and no longer qualifies as a UFO. The Literature/BastardOperatorFromHell lampshaded this one when it was pointed out that there was an "extortionate penalty payment for remaining at work after a UFO sighting in the vicinity of the building" written into his contract, which he later invokes by asking "is that a 747-200F or a 747-200C?".
** Though, if you think about it, [[MindScrew even calling something a UFO can be considered a form of identification, therefore nothing can be technically considered a UFO]].


* '''Lame''' (unable to walk) and '''dumb''' (unable to speak) went from their respective meanings to both being synonyms for "stupid" thanks to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism_treadmill#Euphemism_treadmill euphemism treadmill]]. Words denoting negatively perceived characteristics naturally become used as insults. '''Idiot''' (having an IQ of 0 to 20), '''imbecile''' (having an IQ of 21 to 50), '''moron''' (having an IQ of 51 to 70), and '''cretin''' (someone who suffers from cretinism, i.e. severe mental and physical disabilities caused by congenital hypothyroidism) were medical terms in the early 20th century, and "LD" for "learning disability" is already being used as a playground insult, as is "ADHD" or "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder".
** The word '''stupid''' itself even qualifies. Originally it meant "in a stupor", so calling somebody stupid didn't mean they were unintelligent, but rather unresponsive or comatose.
** "Dumb" as stupid and "dumb" as mute both come from "dumb" defined as "lacking an expected property", which is the etymology of "dummy". The OED suggests the Proto-Germanic meaning to be something like 'stupid', 'not understanding' (compare Modern German ''dumm'', ''tumb'').
** '''Retarded''' technically means to be hindered or slowed down (hence its use in the term "retard bomb" which simply means that it falls slower than usual), but used to mean that someone has a mental disability and is unable to learn at a normal rate. Recently, it turned into a synonym for stupid. Unlike the others, it is still seen as offensive, while it would take someone ''very'' touchy to get annoyed at "lame" or "stupid".[[note]]Unless you are actually disabled or are close with people who are -- in which case, you might very well be annoyed with the use of "lame" as a pejorative.[[/note]] The word is still considered a valid medical term and used in medical textbooks, although generally with an appended note warning prospective nurses and doctors to never use it within earshot of their patients and families.
*** Also, the only thing that can be retarded in this context is a human being, because 'retarded' is an abbreviation of 'retarded in mental development'. There is no such thing as 'retarded joke' or 'retarded behavior' (unless 'retarded' is used as synonym of 'delayed', as in the bomb example above).
* '''Cretin''': The most common derivation provided in English dictionaries is from the Alpine French dialect pronunciation of the word Chrétien, meaning Christian. Another misconception is that 'cretin' originally referred to the mainland Greeks' supposed low opinion of the inhabitants of Crete island. This is false: first, there is no mention of any persistent common prejudice directed to people from Crete from other Greeks, and second, in Greek, people from Crete are called 'Kretikoi', which would be transliterated to 'Cretics', not Cretans or Cretins.
* The word '''child''' has different meanings, depending on the context in which it is used. Biologically, a child is a human who has not attained puberty. Legally, "child" may used in different ways depending on the purpose in question (such as immigration law or the age of consent), but generally refers to an individual under the age of majority - this is generally 18 (as per the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child), but ranges internationally from 15 to 21. "Child" also refers to the offspring of someone, regardless of what age they are.
** The related term '''adolescent''' refers to a human who has reached puberty but has not reached full growth or another developmental cutoff point. What constitutes the end of adolescence varies depending on the purpose. Legally, adolescence ends at the age of majority, whereas medically and psychologically definitions often extend it well into ones twenties.
*** The term '''teenager''' or '''teen''' refers to humans aged 13-19, but is often used as a synonym for "adolescent".
** '''Youth''' is another imprecise term for the period of life where one is young or for young people in general. It often refers to the period of life encompassing childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. It may also be used to refer exclusively to adolescents under the age of majority.
** A '''baby''' (or an '''infant''') is a very young child (generally under age 1) who has yet to learn how to walk. In common use, "baby" is often used as an affectionate term for one's lover. It may also be used to refer to miniature versions of objects, for example "baby carrots", "baby piano" or "baby corn".
* '''Critic''', incidentally, is unrelated to either; its root is the same as that of ''crisis'' and ''crime'', among others: a verb meaning to distinguish between one thing and another. (A crisis is the moment of decision between two outcomes; criminal law distinguishes between what is and is not tolerated; a critic points out distinctions between good and bad art.) For this you tend to use ''criteria'' (which is the plural of ''criterion'').
* '''To beg the question''' is to [[LogicalFallacies commit a logical fallacy]] in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises (e.g. "Of course I had a reason for doing it -- otherwise, I wouldn't have done it!"). The phrase, however, is frequently used with the meaning "to ''raise'' the question" (e.g. "If you didn't put the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder, it begs the question of who did."). The Latin name for it is ''petitio principii'', literally, "assuming the initial point", they should have just ''called'' it "assuming the point" rather than "begging the question" for the fallacy's relation to circular reasoning. In general it implies something like "to request that one's opponent concede the initial point".
* '''Moral equivalent''': often, this phrase is used in the context of considering the metaphorical "scales" of ethics to be balanced: neither is more good (or bad) than the other. This is based on a misunderstanding (almost an inversion) of the intended meaning. William James wrote of "...war, or its moral equivalent." James meant that in modern societies war serves a purpose; the "moral equivalent" would be something which provides a similar function, but (unlike war) is ''not immoral''.
* Piloted HumongousMecha are typically called '''Giant Robots''' despite the textbook definition of robot being "an ''autonomous'' device".
** This goes for smaller ones too, like the machines in ''Series/{{Battlebots}}'' and ''Series/RobotWars'' being remote-controlled rather than autonomous.
* Some tropers have described the male counterpart to an AlwaysFemale trope as a DistaffCounterpart. '''[[DistaffCounterpart Distaff]]''', however, means specifically "female", not simply "gender-switched". This is derived from the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distaff distaff]], a tool used in the traditionally-feminine job of spinning, as well as the inspiration for the female symbol (♀). The male equivalent would be the "SpearCounterpart".[[note]]And yes, the (shield and) spear ''is'' the inspiration for the male symbol (♂).[[/note]]
* '''[[UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}} Bar mitzvah]]''' literally translates to "son of the commandment," i.e. "one to whom the commandments apply", and so it is something that boys ''become''. Therefore you technically do not "have a bar mitzvah", you have a celebration to commemorate becoming a bar mitzvah (similar to the technical definition of "bachelor party"). And as any Jewish parent will tell you, planning one of these parties is like planning a wedding.
** In addition, the plural, unisex way to say ''bat mitzvah'' or ''bar mitzvah'' is ''b'nai mitzvah'' (or ''b'nei mitzvah''); however, because this is both ''plural'' and ''non-gender'', '''no one''' "becomes" a b'nai mitzvah. You can ''go'' to one, as in, "I'm going to my cousins' b'nai mitzvah."
** Also, a bar mitzvah is not when a Jewish boy is circumcised; that is on the eighth day, a bris mila (or b'rit mila, in non-Ashkenazi dialects). The confusion comes from the fact that in Africa, boys are typically circumcised at a much older age. And the word meaning "circumcision" is "mila", not "bris" (which simply means "covenant").
* '''Penultimate''' means "next to last," but is sometimes incorrectly used to simply mean "last". '''Antepenultimate''' means "''next to'' next to last," (or more simply, third to last), but is seldom used these days. The original word for last was '''ultimate''' (''paene'' means "almost": compare to "peninsula" from ''paene'' and ''insula''--that is, island--thus "almost an island"); however, all but the [[IncrediblyLamePun ultimate]] pedants have given up on convincing people that it means anything other than 'maximum'. Students of Latin are taught about the ultima, penult, and antepenult when it comes to placing the stress on the correct syllable of a word -- but then again, students of Latin probably don't need "penultimate" explained to them. And many people seem to also be under the impression that "penultimate" means something along the lines of "even more ultimate", which doesn't even make sense.
* '''Hysteric(al)''' reactions may be funny to onlookers, but its original meaning is not "funny." "Hysterical" was originally used to describe a woman suffering from "hysteria", a psychological state of excessive emotion, especially fear, originally believed to be exclusive to women and caused by disruptions of the uterus (the term literally translates as "womb-fury"). Specifically, the ancient Greeks [[ScienceMarchesOn believed that the uterus could somehow travel around the body and attack the other organs]], presumably for no reason other than to make trouble for the men who would have to put up with the results. The word itself derives from the Greek word for uterus, from which we also get "hysterectomy". It was often treated by [[UnusualEuphemism "pubic massage"]] -- yes, that's what vibrators were invented for. They were used by doctors to induce a "hysterical paroxysm" i.e. orgasm, and the numerous euphemisms permitted the entire thing to be discussed by medical professionals back in Victorian times, as not only was it improper to discuss sexuality, it was thought females didn't even have any.
** As late as the 1940s, hysteria was commonly used to mean, roughly, [[OlderThanTheyThink PMS]]. As late as the 1970's, reprinted house and garden handbooks from the 1940s included '''home remedies for hysteria'''.
* The word '''work''' (as a noun) has many meanings in common usage, including something taking effort to produce, some form of artistic production or a job. However, in physics, 'work' means the amount of energy transferred by a force moving an object. This definition is much less known, and much less used.
** Specifically, work is the force required to move something, integrated over the distance moved. These are very useful units for the engineering of devices, since they are to a degree independent of time and time is possibly the most annoying unit to deal with in design terms (it turns things into dynamic problems). As is probably obvious, expressing energy expenditure without referencing how long it takes to expend the energy isn't really that useful for common usage.
* The distinction between '''amount''' and '''quantity''' (or '''number''') is often ignored. You have an amount of a mass noun such as water or money, and a quantity of a countable noun such as dollars or shoes. The distinction between "less" and "fewer" is related to this; you'd say "less money" but "fewer shoes", which is why the sign at the supermarket aisle ought to read, "Twelve items or fewer," not "Twelve items or less".
** If the supermarket really wanted to flout (not flaunt) the rules (although they'd probably be flaunting them in their heads), it could remove all doubt by saying "Twelve or less items". "Twelve items or less" leaves just enough room for them to wriggle out: the hanging "less" doesn't actually state less what, even though it's heavily implied they mean items.
* You may have a '''family crest''', if you can trace your family tree back to European gentry. But the ''crest'' is only the bit that stands on top of the ''helm'' (like the crest of a jaybird). In most European traditions the essential element is the shield, or ''escutcheon'' (in Germany, at some times, the crest(s) got much more emphasis than the shield; but in Romance-speaking countries crests were relatively rarely displayed at all). The full ''achievement'' may also include a motto and, for a noble, ''supporters'' (a pair of human, animal or monstrous figures standing beside the shield to prop it all up) and perhaps a coronet and ''pavilion'' (a fur-lined robe forming a tent around the whole). The original meaning of ''coat of arms'' was a tunic worn over armor to keep the sun off, which was painted in the same design as the shield, so the word ''coat'' is used for that design or, in the case of a composite shield, each of its ''quarters''.
** Some popular references claim that each ''charge'' (symbol) and ''tincture'' (color) has a specific meaning; and some crackpots say the same for each vowel and consonant in a language. The only thing we can be sure of is that arms often make puns (sometimes obscure) on part of the bearer's name. [[note]]This is called "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canting_arms canting arms]]" and can be seen (for instance) in the arms of the Spanish region of Castile and León (Castile gets a castle, León gets a lion); the arms of [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfWindsor the Queen Mum]] (containing bows and lions, for her maiden name, "Bowes-Lyon"); and the arms of Munich (whose name comes from the Old High German for "by the monks' place" and sure enough the arms depict a monk).[[/note]]
** In Japan, ''crest'' is a fair translation of ''mon'' because the primary emblem '''was''' displayed on helmets as well as elsewhere.
* While '''lay''' is the actual past tense of '''lie''', the former verb is often incorrectly used in place of the latter.
** And the past tense of "lay" is "laid", not "layed". Just as in "getting laid". (The passive participle, in the nonsexy sense, is ''lain''.)
** And if you're going to use the transitive 'lay' (to put down something long or flat in a certain careful manner) reflexively, use a reflexive pronoun or it's wrong. "Go lay down" is bad; "Go lay yourself down" is fine, although its connotations are slightly different from those of "Go lie down".
* The terms '''Internet''' and '''World Wide Web''' are often used interchangeably. The ''Internet'' is the network itself, over which all network protocols operate; the ''Web'' is just one of its applications, the set of servers that use Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). If you open an instant messaging program or go play an online game, you're using the Internet but not the Web. This has become pedantic in that often the word ''Internet'' is used in place of ''Web'' -- correctly, since a website is necessarily on the Internet. It's much more noticeable when switched around: if someone says ''Web'' or ''World Wide Web'' in reference to anything other than a website, you can expect anyone who understands this distinction to be all over it.
* '''Human''': This is a tough one because, here on Real Earth, several possible definitions all collapse to the same group. The term is widely taken to refer specifically to ''Homo sapiens sapiens'', i.e. "us". However, among the accepted dictionary definitions include any member of the species ''Homo sapiens'', which would also include the now-extinct archaic varies of ''H. sapiens'', such as Neanderthals and ''Homo sapiens idaltu''. Others include the entire genus ''Homo'', picking up more of our ancestors, or even any member of Hominidae capable of speech. Whether species outside our branch of the genetic tree (i.e. sapient aliens, robots, magical beings, future species descended from H. sapiens sapiens, etc.) could be properly called "human" is ''entirely up for debate'': as it hasn't come up yet in the real world, neither linguists nor lawyers have made a canonical decision. As a result, many phrases and idioms use the term "human" in a way that will be incorrect if a decision in one direction or the other is ever made ("Human rights" vs "Human anatomy" for example). '''Person''', particularly in the legal sense, is even more ambiguous.
** The philosophical definition of "man" is "rational (i.e. ''sapient''; see above) animal." This is the way it is used in any context outside of scientifically-rigorous biology. In the genre of space opera, where there are sapient extraterrestrial species that communicate with the humans, the proper term to refer to us would be "Terrans," since [[Franchise/StarTrek Klingons]] / [[Franchise/MassEffect Turians]] / [[Manga/OutlawStar Ctarl-Ctarl]] / etc. are all "man." Occasionally, a slightly different distinction is made, with 'human' referring to only our species, and other sapient lifeforms referred to as a 'person' but not 'human'.
* '''Controversial''' should not be used to describe people, things, or ideas that are merely "shocking" or "in bad taste". The word literally means "likely to provoke dissent" (i.e. '''controversy''') -- and that dissent need not be bitter. That's why "controversial" does not always have to be a "negative" word, even though that's how it tends to be used. Since almost everyone disapproves of child pornography, for example, child pornography is not "controversial". You should use terms such as "scandalous" or "outrageous" instead. (But don't use "uproarious", because that term has incorrectly come to mean "extremely funny.")
* '''Archaic''' does not simply mean old or outdated. It describes a word from an older language being used in a modern language in a specific sense, or something so old as to no longer be in use (for example, steam engine cars are archaic).
* A '''manger''' is a feed trough. The little display with UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} and Mary and Joseph in the stable can be called a "manger ''scene''": there's generally a manger in it, but the whole thing isn't one.
* '''Fundamentalist''': Denotes somebody who puts a particular emphasis on the basic tenets of a doctrine as opposed to ideologies that might have a basis in that doctrine but are willing to question some basic tenets. It's really more a statement against revisionism than a statement for tradition and bigotry, it just usually ends up that way. A fundamentalist is, strictly speaking, somebody who emphasizes the fundamentals of an ideology, so it's not hard to see how this purist approach could lend itself to extremism.
** Similarly, '''evangelical''', in terms like "evangelical doctrine", just means "practicing evangelism". By that definition, many churches are evangelical, even if they don't consider themselves so and don't have the traits that most people consider "evangelical". Unfortunately this word has lost most of its usefulness by coming to mean the kind of church that still condemns dancing, throws fits about interracial marriage, and steadfastly maintains that the world was created in 7 days 6,000 years ago. (And in case you forgot what evangelism is, it means an emphasis on conversion and recruitment, literally to "spread the good news." In this way, even Hindus and Muslims could technically be evangelical, they just wouldn't use this word.) "Evangelical" also shouldn't be assumed to imply "politically conservative"; most evangelicals were on the political ''left'' until the 20th century, and some still are.
** Also, '''radical''' means "pertaining to the root" (from ''radix'', the Latin word for "root"), not "extreme". Radical movements seek to make radical (i.e. fundamental) changes in basic social structures, or they attempt a return to the "root" of a movement which they feel has diverged from its original purpose. Of course, radical movements are often prone to extremism.
* '''{{Tsundere}}''' originally was a term created on the Internet to designate a character's personality change over time, usually catalyzed by a love interest. However, the term has been expanded to cover characters that have two distinct personality modes, harsh and sweet, whether or not the character actually changes as the story progresses.
** '''{{Yandere}}''', when used to describe males, is often used to describe ''any'' abusive BastardBoyfriend. It originally referred specifically to an obsessive love. [[Franchise/StarWars Anakin Skywalker]] is a yandere for his obsession with trying to save Padmé, ''not'' because he chokes her while DrunkOnTheDarkSide. It's also misused on females to imply a KnifeNut or crazy-murderous girls in general, even if love isn't part of the equation (Such as [[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya Asakura Ryouko]]). Meanwhile, cute, innocent, AxCrazy women (and sometimes men) are CuteAndPsycho, since that does not require an object of affection to be yan over.
** '''{{Kuudere}}''' is often thought to mean "EmotionlessGirl". It's actually more of a "cool" approach to the {{tsundere}} character type. (That is, they may ''appear'' to be emotionless, until one gets to know them)
* A '''[[ConvenientMiscarriage miscarriage]]''' is an early term '''[[GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion abortion]]'''. Both are medical terms for the termination of pregnancy and don't reflect any intent.
** Popularly, a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion (unintentional), while abortion is a medical procedure performed for the sole purpose of terminating a pregnancy (intentional).
* '''Contemporary''' means ''of the same time''. To use it without a temporal context is to invite the question, "contemporary with what?" If you use it as a synonym for ''modern'', well -- at least please be very careful that no other time, such as the lifetime of J. S. Bach, is mentioned or implied nearby.
** It would be safer to use "present" or "current" if you want to be YouKeepUsingThatWord/VeryPedantic. Technically, J. S. Bach's lifetime happened in the modern period too.
** An exception is with the term 'Contemporary History' which is a defined period between 1945 and the present day.
* Regarding the word '''{{fetish}}''', most people use it in the way it's defined on [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fetish dictionary.com]] as well as in a few other dictionaries. That is, it's something normally unassociated with sex that that causes "habitual sexual arousal" in the observer and isn't something the fetishist necessarily has to have in order to become aroused. On the other hand, other dictionaries, such as [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fetish?show=0&t=1294374243 Merriam Webster]], explicitly state that it's something that needs to be present in order to arouse the fetishist. Those that use this definition argue that most people who claim to have a fetish actually have a [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kink kink]] instead, as it's rare for it to be that extreme. All of of this, of course, necessarily postdates the '''original''' use of the word; i.e., an idol or other artifact to which is ascribed supernatural qualities.
** To say that you have a "Native American bear fetish" probably does not mean that you experience sexual arousal at the thought of bears belonging to tribes inhabiting the Americas before Europeans arrived (or that you can only be sexually aroused by [[TheBear a large, hairy, bearded gay man]] descended from one of said tribes). More likely, you have a carving or other artwork done by Native Americans to worship a mystic bear figure. [[NightmareFuel Most likely]].
* Using the word '''[[AbsurdlySpaciousSewer sewer]]''' for storm drainage systems. Sewers carry sewage, everything that goes down the toilet, sink, dishwashing machine and bath or shower. Storm drains carry water that washes up on the street. The two are not the same, even though many writers of fiction and video game designers confuse the two. And even Wiki/TheOtherWiki lists another name for a storm drain in the US as "storm sewer". However, in the UK (or at least in England and Wales) 'sewer' denotes a public drain/channel rather than a private one. It can carry foul water or storm water, or both. This is a statutory definition.
** On the contrary, this use as only for waste water is inaccurate to its original use as "conduit" from the Anglo-French word "sewere."
* To be '''electrocuted''' or to suffer '''electrocution''' is to be outright ''killed'' by an electric shock, not to simply receive one; indeed, the word was coined by Thomas Edison as a portmanteau of "electric" and "execute", after "to westinghouse" failed to catch on (a TakeThat against his AC-inventing rival). But because of the confusion the phrase "electrocuted to death" could be used if you want to emphasize that yes, the person died.
** Similarly, "execute" does not mean to kill but to carry out; The executive branch executes the laws. It also executes capital (death) sentences. Its use to refer to capital punishment is basically a SesquipedalianLoquaciousness version of organized crime using "do" as a euphemism for killing.
* A '''dropkick''' is either kicking someone with both feet at the same time, or dropping a ball and kicking it after it bounces, depending on whether you're talking about professional wrestling or football. It doesn't mean just any kick that makes someone fall down.
** Or, in martial arts, an inverted side kick. (Sometimes also an axe-kick.)
* '''Scrum''' is derived from the words scrimmage or skirmish which mean something to the general effect of "disorganized fighting". In Rugby a scrum is one of the most organized things that can happen during play. The eight (in Rugby Union: six in Rugby League) forwards from each team bind against each other in an extremely organized fashion and perform a sort of reverse tug of war to contest the possession of the ball. The formation is very organized and players deviating from their position within the scrum will result in penalties. One of the most common things a non-rugby sports commentator likes to say is "that's an old fashioned rugby scrum!" when a play turns into chaos and the players pile up on top of each other. The funny thing is, if they took out "rugby" they'd be accurate as the rugby definition of a scrum deviates from the standard "skirmish" route. It's kind of a double subversion.
* '''Apocryphal''' means "of uncertain truth." Something cannot be "probably apocryphal" unless you're admitting you yourself didn't check the facts on its general acceptance; the word implies ''uncertainty'', albeit sufficient uncertainty to reject it as historical fact, but not falsehood per se. One or two contemporary accounts or products could (and very often have) rocket most "apocryphal" events into widespread acceptance.
* The word '''chef''' is widely used to refer to any cook regardless of rank, but it is the shortened version of the French term ''chef de cuisine'', the head or director of a kitchen. The word "chef" comes from the Latin word ''caput'' ("head"), so "head chef" really means "head head" (though, if we want to be true pedants, one might argue the "head" in "head chef" means "top" or "most important" metaphorically). Only the highest ranking cook in the whole kitchen is ''the'' chef.
** This is because most cooks in a professional kitchen are either the ''Sous-Chef'' (second in command, literally Under-Chef), a ''Chef de Partie'' (head of station, or line cook) or assist the Chef de Partie as a ''Commis-Chef'' (literally chef-clerk). Since nearly every position has the word chef in it, it's no wonder it got shortened. \\\
To give an example, Spongebob is both a Fry Chef (as he heads up the frying station) and the Chef de Cuisine (by default). In the episode where Patrick assisted him, Patrick would have been his Commis-Chef (and also Sous Chef by default).
* '''Longswords''' are not '''arming swords''', and '''broadsword''' is not a synonym for either. The typical arming sword have long since been called longswords or broadswords in tabletop games, video games, books, films, and so many other forms of media, but in actuality you could not find bigger differences between the two. A longsword has more in common with a hand-and-a-half bastard sword except longer, having gotten the name due to their length. A broadsword, likewise, is descended from a rapier and boasts the same type of intricate hilt and handle, but with a much broader blade. Worse, now they're starting to become the "normal" term, as people are generally far more familiar with the term of "longsword" or "broadsword" than "arming sword".
* '''[[PlayfulHacker Hackers]]''', as in "those who '''hack'''", is a term for relatively skillful programmers (generally; certain non-programmers may also qualify) who find ways to use hardware or software for things it was not originally intended for (which may or may not be illegal), and who often see themselves as doing a public service by bringing security flaws to public attention. Hackers find offensive the popular use of the term "hacker" in reference to warez groups or malicious intruders, and prefer the word "[[TheCracker cracker]]" for such. The fact remains though, that both terms are essentially arbitrary labels - it's not as though "hacking" means something nicer than "cracking"- and to the vast majority of people hackers means crackers.
** Despite the opinions of the hobbyists and proponents of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_%28programmer_subculture%29 Hacker Culture]], a given dictionary definition of "Hacker" is one who "attempts to gain unauthorized access to proprietary computer systems" (though that does not necessarily imply malice).
** Note that the original meaning above is still in use in certain cases. One notable use is kernel hacking, as this requires a high degree of programming skill and many members of this group consider themselves to be hackers.
** Hacker is also heavily used in video game culture to define someone that cheats. Very rarely do online video game cheaters use any actual hack. Most people that cheat in games use 3rd party programs that simply alters the game's coding. Hacker is also used to insult other players that are suspected of cheating, even if the accused are not cheating.
** "Hacking" is also used to refer to any form of control of someone's logged-in account or outright gaining access to someone's username and password. Apparently, using someone's computer while they're using the bathroom and firing up their browser to post things under their Website/{{Facebook}} account that is already logged in constitutes hacking.
*** Admittedly a lot of hacking that's actually led to ''charges'' involved similarly mundane things—or calling people up and claiming to be a customer who'd forgotten their password.
* '''Beta''' is often used to refer to a video game in any development stage before it's released. It's actually the "feature complete" stage, just when it's about to be ready for release. It is tested by a (usually) limited audience outside the programming team to find bugs and improve usability. It is not equivalent to a video game only being part way finished. Alpha testing is (as the name suggests) the testing of the unfinished software by the development team prior to the beta release. Gamma or Release Candidate refers software that is finished and ready for official release, barring any major bugs.
* '''Manipulation''' is not inherently insidious. It means "to influence, direct, or control something to one's advantage", which need not be negative or even self-centered, just that it produces a net benefit to you. Dextrous manipulation, for instance, means to use your hands to make an object do what you want it to do. But one way of using the simplified meaning is for categorical opponents of genetic research to insist on referring to the practice as "genetic manipulation" to make it sound desirably sinister.
** Similarly, as {{Narm}}y as it probably sounds to fans of ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', "data manipulation" refers in the real world to [[ArtisticLicenseStatistics misuse of statistics]].
* '''ASCII''' (see [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII Wikipedia]]) is a character-encoding scheme. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_User_Interface Text User Interface]] is used a lot in {{Roguelike}}s, and because of that, text-based graphics are often referred to as "ASCII" even if they use a different scheme like EBCDIC or an "extended ASCII"[[note]]The first 128 codes of those schemes are the same as the ASCII ones[[/note]] scheme such as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_page_437 CP437]] or Unicode.
** Likewise, in the Windows world, "ANSI" is used to refer to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows-1252 the Windows-1252 encoding]], especially as opposed to "Unicode" (itself actually [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UTF-16 a specific Unicode encoding]]).[[note]]It is said that a function has both ANSI and Unicode versions when one version accepts single-byte character strings ''usually'' in Windows-1252 and the other accepts UTF-16 character strings.[[/note]] It is not actually an ANSI standard.
* The word '''claymore''' does not refer to a specific type of sword. The word is a corruption of the Scots Gaelic phrase ''claidheamh mòr'', which means big sword. It is commonly used to describe both the late medieval two-handed swords, and the 17th- and 18th century scottish basket-hilted broadswords, because both kinds were longer and heavier than the norm for swords at the time.
* '''Otaku'''. In the Western world, this somehow became the word for "anime fan". In Japan, it's a (pejorative) word for geek or someone who's a little too into their hobby (the stereotypical railfan would be a train otaku, for example). The etymology gets muddled too since while it does mean "house", it does not refer to a literal house (as a result of this confusion, people thought the word was a reference to shut-ins) but a figurative word similar to "clan".
* '''Anime''' is Japanese for animation. That's it. There never was a special distinction between anime and other cartoons but in the West, it gets its own category just because the art has certain similarities with each other. Technically, there's no such thing as "anime art" or "anime style". ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''' or Creator/{{Disney}} would also be called anime in Japan. On a more pedantic note, even other Japanese 2D media (visual novels, manga, light novels, etc.) get pinned under the "anime" umbrella because they share similar media tropes; if a trope happens in one, expect it to be called an "anime" thing regardless of where the trope originated from.
** On a similar note, '''manga''' just means comics. Any comic. However, neither Chinese nor Korean comics consider themselves manga, although they share similar styles. They are respectively '''{{Manhua}}''' and '''{{Manhwa}}'''.
* '''[[LeParkour Parkour]]''' is getting from point A to point B while conserving energy. '''Free-running''' is getting from point A to point B while doing fancy acrobatics.
* In cuisine, an ''' entrée''' is not an appetizer. In traditional French cuisine, the main course was ''le rotí'', which consisted of a roast cut of meat, or a fowl, which was carved at the table, and ''les entrées'' were all courses eaten before ''le rotí''. Very few restaurants, even in France, serve ''rotí''-style main courses nowadays, but the tradition of calling the other dishes entrées remains.
** Note: This only applies to American English. ''Entrée'' is the French term for "the dish before the main dish" (while an "appetizer" is an "apéritif"), and Commonwealth English follows modern French usage.
* '''Isekai''' literally means "another world", as in the tropes TrappedInAnotherWorld or ReincarnateInAnotherWorld, whether be an AlternateUniverse, inside the world of media, or on a different planet. Thanks to the boom of fantasy media featuring the trope the 2010s, the term often gets used to mean "trapped in a fantasy world", or just plain "fantasy world" (implying the world is the "other" because it's different from ours).
* '''Isotope'''. The proper term for its common use is '''nuclide''' -- that is, a substance with a fixed number of protons and neutrons. '''Isotopes''' are two or more substances with the same number of protons and different numbers of neutrons -- that is, the difference is like between a ''boy'' and a ''brother'' -- the latter can only be used as a comparative to something else.
* '''Queer''''s original and proper meaning is 'strange' or 'suspicious', but over time it has evolved - or devolved - to mean the same thing that 'gay' now means, 'homosexual'. It is used in other contexts to refer to other kinds of abnormal sexualities and gender types (as in "New Queer Cinema").
** On a related note, the word '''abnormal''' itself is often negative, but it originally just meant "deviating from the norm". So referring to queer people as abnormal is true from an etymological standpoint, but likely to cause offense. A safer word to use here would be '''atypical'''.
* '''Enormity''' is traditionally defined along the lines of "The great or extreme scale, seriousness, or extent of something ''generally considered to be morally wrong''." It does ''not'' simply mean "seriousness", and it certainly doesn't just mean "big." For example, "[[VomitingCop The policeman grew nauseous as he realized the]] [[MoralEventHorizon enormity of the crime]]" is correct. "The crowd stood in awe at the enormity of the tower" is not, unless the tower is somehow inherently evil.
** However, ''[[http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/enormous enormous]]'' lost the meaning of evilness and nowadays just means "very big". [[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enormity Some authorities say]] the same thing happened to "enormity"; languages change.
** Speaking of errors this page likes to point out: the policeman may have grown nauseated (stricken with nausea), but probably not nauseous (capable of causing nausea).
** Though a policeman becoming nauseated and vomiting [[VomitChainReaction could cause nausea in other people]], meaning the policeman would have become nauseous as well as nauseated.
* A '''StatuteOfLimitations''' is a law which lays down how much time you have to bring a civil action, or for there to be a criminal prosecution. It is not the time period itself. When people say "the statute of limitations is about to expire", this makes no sense unless the law itself is about to get turfed with a sunset clause. One of the limitation periods that the statute lays down might be expiring, though. Only moderately pedantic, though, as "the statute of limitations is about to expire on that" is less passive than "that is about to expire under the statute of limitations", so some style guides might prefer the former while acknowledging the inaccuracy. Indeed, within the legal profession, "the statute of limitations has run/passed" is not only perfectly valid, but is preferred usage (in the US at least) when talking about time-barred actions. (In informal legal usage, lawyers will usually abbreviate it and say the action is [=SOLed=]--meaning not only "statute of limitations" but also "[[SophisticatedAsHell shit outta luck]].")
** ''Statue'' Of Limitations is simply a spelling error. [[note]]unless referring to an actual statue, perhaps an antithesis to the US Art/StatueOfLiberty[[/note]]
* '''Socialism''' refers to an economic system wherein the "means of production" are owned or managed in common, to some degree or other. '''Communism''' originally meant "revolutionary socialism" in general, but since Karl Marx's time, it has almost always been used to identify adherents to Marx's theories, or of his and his successors (such as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, or Mao).
** As with all such terms, there's a wide range in how they're used in practice. Policy positions that might be called "socialist" in one country would not be seen that way in another.[[note]]For example, a Canadian-style health care system--where hospitals are privately run, but all people's health insurance is provided by the government--would be considered "socialized medicine" by the standards of the US, but not by the standards of the UK, where hospital employees work directly for a government agency.[[/note]] And any move towards increased common control over any industry could be called a move ''toward'' socialism (by its supporters if the term "socialism" is popular, by its opponents if the term is unpopular).
** The terms are also used differently in specialized areas. In Marxist theory, for example, "communism" refers to the end state of socialism, in which production is so abundant that neither government nor money is needed. "Communist" governments, by their own self-understanding, did not govern "communist" countries, but rather governed ''socialist'' countries that (it was believed) would progress ''towards'' communism.
* If you're talking about whether two facts are in accord, you might ask whether they "jibe with" each other. ("jibe" is a nautical term.) You wouldn't ask whether they ''jive'' with each other, unless you're asking whether they're grooving to that funky music.
* '''Casual''', by its original definition, meant irregular or occasionally, which fits well with a person that does something every now and then instead of doing it regularly. Nowadays, people use casual, in terms of video games or other forms of entertainment activity, as an insult towards people that do not dedicate their time to an activity and even many video games have begun to use casual to mean "easy".
* '''Gimmick''' originally meant something that is designed to draw in attraction and amusement. People today now use gimmick as way of saying [[Administrivia/ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontLike "this has a gimmick, therefore, it sucks."]] While there can be misuse of gimmicks that make it bad overall, most people that slam something for being gimmicky or relying on a gimmick do so ''because'' there's a gimmick and not because the gimmick itself was bad.
* '''Rape''' means to commit sexual intercourse on a person who either did not legally consent (as in, they said no) or ''could'' not legally consent to the act (as in, they were drunk, asleep or JailBait), or to plunder or raze a country in a violent manner. For centuries the word "rape" commonly meant "take by force" and could be applied to both people and objects (whence came "The Rape of the Sabine Women" and Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock"). People now use rape to describe someone utterly destroying another person in a game, despite the fact that there's no sexual activity involved at all (the usage is entirely figurative here, but still laced with UnfortunateImplications).
** The "plunder and raze" definition, while still correct, is rarely used these days. It's still recognizable, however, in "Rape of Nanjing".
* '''Animation''' is not just a filming style involving showing progressive drawings at a fast pace to simulate movement. It is ''anything'' which can be described as "lively, vibrant, or capable of movement". Only moderately pedantic because the old use is still remembered, especially in the antonym "inanimate", but confusion still tends to arise when speaking of things like "[[OurZombiesAreDifferent animated corpses]]".
* '''Pristine''' is typically used by most people to simply mean "clean," as opposed to the word's actual meaning which is "a thing which is virtually unchanged from its original form." In other words, a dirty hunk of raw hematite ore fresh out of the ground is "pristine" but if you smelt it into a geometrically perfect iron bar and polish it up really nice then it is no longer pristine at all. This one is moderately pedantic because at this point most people seem to have forgotten the word's actual meaning, but it's not completely pedantic because this meaning is definitely worth keeping; we already have more than enough words that mean "clean" (for example, "clean") but very few words that mean the same thing as "pristine."
** If "pristine" is supposed to mean "unchanged from the original" but many people have stopped using it that way, [[{{Irony}} does that mean the word pristine is no longer pristine]]?
* '''Literal''' is used often for emphatic filler, regardless of whether the situation described is a concrete demonstration of an expression that is meant allegorically or whether the term has both concrete and allegorical meanings for the definition to apply to. Examples:
** ''He literally has no shoes!'' - If you mean he's in possession of no shoes, on his feet or elsewhere, that's as concrete as it gets. If there's a metaphorical meaning 'without shoes' signifies, it's not a commonly accepted one.
** ''They literally fell in love!'' - 'Love' is an abstract, so they can't land in any literal love. Did gravity literally yank them down into an emotional state of mutual attraction and affection?
* '''Cryogenics''' is a branch of physics dealing with the production of extremely cold temperatures and the way that certain materials react within those temperatures. It's often mistakenly used in place of '''cryonics''', the practice of freezing organic tissue to prevent it from decaying.
* '''Osmosis''' is the process by which water moves through a semi-permeable membrane[[note]]Something the solvent can pass through, but not the solute.[[/note]] from a highly concentrated solution to a lower concentrated one. Because plants use this process to absorb water, it's sometimes used to describe anything being absorbed.
** In cases where a substance other than water moves through such a membrane, the word "diffusion" is more appropriate.
** However, in some situations, such as a plant absorbing minerals, the correct term is actually 'active transport'. It all depends on whether the movement of the substance requires energy or not.
* '''Tempering''' is a word often used to denote process of making something harder, literally or figuratively (e.g. 'tempering courage in the heat of battle'). Metals and alloys are hardened in the process called hardening and consisting of heating the object to high temperature where the metal is malleable and then quickly quenching it. Tempering is a process or heating in relatively low temperatures (~500 F for steel) for a longer period of time to make the object slightly softer but way less brittle and more elastic.
** Related to this is the idiom of "losing one's temper", which means that a person has lost some amount of self-control, usually in a fit of anger. However, when someone says "he has a temper" or "he has quite the temper", it's meant to imply that the person frequently "breaks", which is the exact opposite of what the phrase actually means. Saying "he has a bad temper" would be more correct.
* '''White''' (the common racial term) is one of those words that is universally employed but that nobody has been able to define with total accuracy. If you stopped people on the street and asked them what, exactly, made a person "white", you wouldn't be very successful. Notwithstanding those people who would look at you like you were crazy and hit you with a MathematiciansAnswer [[ShapedLikeItself ("You're 'white' if you're a white person!")]], you'd be bound to get one of three common "definitions", each of which is fallacious.
** Most people would probably say "a person with light skin." Really? That will come as a shock to the many Japanese, Koreans, North Chinese, and Tungus and Manchu peoples who sometimes turn up fairer-skinned than most Europeans. And how, then, do you explain the light-complexioned Arabs (who, having Semitic features, are technically of African stock) of the more northerly parts of the Middle East? Or albinos, who can be of any race but are ''always'' lacking pigmentation?
** Those who respond in a more pedantic way might say "a person displaying [[FacialProfiling Caucasoid facial features]] instead of Mongoloid [[note]] here meaning "looking like a Mongolian", ''not'' "suffering from Down's Syndrome" [[/note]] or Negroid ones." Trouble is, that category would include most of the indigenous peoples of India, who are typically light-red- or brown-skinned, and in the tropical south can have complexions as black as the night. And then, on the other hand, you have light-to-medium-colored Ashkenazi Jews with their decidedly un-Aryan "hooked noses"; or part-Cherokee American "whites", who display the telltale Amerindian curling incisors and elevated cheekbones.
** People for whom "white = European" would probably respond with something along the lines of "a member of any ethnic group claiming political representation or national sovereignty in Europe." Well, okay...but Eurasia is tectonically one big continent, so where do Europeans start becoming Asians? Historically, Eastern Europe has been said to end at the Ural Mountains in the north, in the Caucasus region (just beyond Ukraine) in the center, and at the Strait of Bosporus in Turkey in the south; but people's physical features do not [[NoOntologicalInertia automatically shift at these borders]]. And even within the generally accepted boundaries of Europe, what about the Finns, Lapps [[note]] politically correct term: ''Sami'' [[/note]] , Estonians, and Hungarians - all of them Uralic peoples, and thus of Asian origin (and occasionally displaying subtle Asian facial markers), and in fact were at one time prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods in the United States ''because they were deemed not white''? What about the Gypsies [[note]] politically correct term: ''Roma'' [[/note]], who are usually considered nonwhite but were living as naturalized Europeans long before the modern borders of their host countries were set? What about Bulgarians, who are genetically ''half-Turkish''? And on and on and on...
** For all of the above reasons, modern-day anthropologists tend to avoid using the word "white" unless it is spoken or written with caveats, preferring the much less racialist terms "European" or (for North Americans and Australasians) "Neo-European." Otherwise, they would have to constantly waste time explaining "whiteness" with the convoluted definition of "light-skinned people genetically linked to the westernmost part of Eurasia who are not Uralic, Roma, Bulgarian, etc." Perhaps "white" will one day disappear from the layperson's vocabulary as well, if its use becomes too controversial and/or people come to believe that if it is wrong to use "yellow" or "red" as colorist terms, then "white" and "black" shouldn't be used either.
* '''Epic''' refers to "epic poetry," which means narratives that are heroic, majestic, or impressively great. Calling something "epic" is to compare it to the scale of something from an epic narrative ... Which is meaningless if one doesn't know about epic narratives. Since internet culture uses this word to describe ''anything'' that is remotely good, that underscores how meaningless it's become. (Of course, ''great'', ''wonderful'', ''awesome'', and ''excellent'' have long been similarly misused, so this is par for the course.)
** It's gotten to the point that there are now [[http://stopsay.in/epic backlash sites]] and [[http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Word-Epic-is-Overused/170782214724 entire groups]] against its misuse.
* In archery, one does not '''fire''' or '''shoot''' an arrow, one '''looses''' an arrow.
* A '''nymphomaniac''' is specifically a sexually compulsive ''woman''. The male equivalent of nymphomania is ''satyromania'', both respectively taking their names from notoriously randy all female and all male Greek mythological creatures.
* For the most part, a '''mime''' means basically the same today as it did 2,000 years ago - an actor who performs silently. However, back then it did ''not'' mean "a silent clown [[WhiteMaskOfDoom with a blank white face"]]; that sense came from the French theatrical clown Pierrot, who was originally ''not'' silent. And the original Greco-Roman mime performances were not totally devoid of sound; they were more like ballet, with the actors dancing or making similar stylized movements to the accompaniment of music, and often also a chanting chorus narrating some kind of story. Most importantly, the original mimes were ''not'' clowns, not always supposed to be funny. They also did not wear makeup, but grotesque, oversized masks that made them appear inhuman (the "masked humanoid" sense survives in many traditional Asian forms of drama, such as the ''kathakali'' performances of southern India, although modern-day ''kathakali'' actors do not wear masks ''per se'', but [[UncannyValleyMakeup layers of thick-crusted cream makeup that simulate a mask and can be difficult to remove after a performance]]).
* The use of '''Gothic''' to mean "dark and spooky" dates only to the late eighteenth century; the word originally was not supposed to conjure up ghost stories, let alone the punk, heavy metal, and emo genres of music. On the contrary, "Gothic" architecture first appeared in northern France in the twelfth century (in the town of Chartres, specifically), and - paradoxically enough - was originally conceived to allow stained-glass windows in church to admit more natural ''light''. Earlier than that, the Goths were an ethnic group: a people living in eastern Europe and speaking a language distantly related to German; they even had their own alphabet for a time.
** The use of "Gothic" to refer to Creator/TimBurton and/or Batman also merits discussion. Burton is ''not'' truly Gothic; if he were, his movies would be completely inappropriate for children and might even come close to being banned in American markets, for Gothic literature was the hardcore pornography of its time, with plenty of torture and sexual perversion. Burton is more of a satirical post-modernist with a BlackComedy streak. And to call Batman "Gothic" is even further from the older definition: the phrase "Gothic hero" is an oxymoron, since Gothic characters are always villainous at worst and (to some extent) sexually perverse at best, neither of which can be applied to Batman (and lest we forget, the original Gothic protagonist, in [[Creator/JohnMilton Milton's]] ''Literature/ParadiseLost'', was Satan himself!); Batman is closer to an "existentialist" (an adherent of the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, and less directly Creator/AynRand and Nietzsche) - a similarly dark worldview, but one in which heroism is possible.
* '''Emo''': On that note, emo does not automatically mean anything angsty or brooding. Rather it originated from a genre of music characterized by expressive lyrics both positive and negative. Unfortunately thanks to the EmoTeen stereotype, the word often gets tossed around to denote {{Wangst}}y and/or excessive brooding, and can even lead to UnfortunateImplications when used to describe people (usually fictional characters with a DarkAndTroubledPast) that suffer from legitimate mental health issues such as depression.
* '''Epicenter''' literally means "the point ground above the center". It's used specifically for earthquakes--the center of an earthquake is somewhere underground, so the epicenter is the point on the ground directly above the earthquake's center. But because people always heard the word in connection with earthquakes, it's come to have the common meaning "center of something very big and important".
** Similarly, '''ground zero''' literally means "place on the ground below an explosion"--since atomic bombs are usually set to go off in the air for maximum destruction, "ground zero" would be the spot directly below where the bomb went off. But it has come to mean "center of devastation". (During the 90s, the term was often used interchangeably with "square one" to mean "starting point"--as in, "We're going to have to go back to ground zero and start over". But after the 9/11 attacks, when "ground zero" was commonly used to refer to the destroyed World Trade Center site, the term shifted back to something closer to the original meaning.)
* '''Pure wrestling''' normally refers to a game or contest where the participants will only use grappling techniques designed to control and move each other to a desired position. Only in the context of ProfessionalWrestling would it be appropriate to describe matches that make use of chokes, bone breaking, ligament snapping and ''kicks'' as "pure wrestling".
* The large majority of '''sport'''ing industries are also in the business of '''entertainment'''. Only in professional wrestling does "sports entertainment" mean someone cares more about entertaining than looking like a sport instead of sporting event people pay to watch.
* '''Sacred''', '''sanctified''', and other variations of the word do not mean "good". The term "sacred" has two major accepted meanings by religious scholars, neither of which has the same meaning as "good."
** 1. '''Set apart''', usually in regards to land which is set apart for some special (usually religious, but not always) use and considered to be inviolable. So land set aside for the building of a temple or cemetery is sacred, but technically so is land set aside for a national park. It can also refer to any other thing or belief which is considered inviolable. For example, someone holding their marriage sacred.
** 2. '''The spiritual world''' and everything that exists within it. While the Sacrum ''does'' include Heaven and is considered to be a superior and more pure plane of existence, it does also include Hell, Purgatory, and all those who dwell within.
*** Related, '''profane''' refers to '''the non-spiritual, or material world''' and everything which exists within it - Earth, the Sun, humanity, animals, plants... basically everything which exists within our perceivable reality. It does not mean "evil" or "corrupt" or "blasphemous." The devil and demons are ''certainly'' not profane, since as established, they exist within the Sacrum.
* A '''prototype''' is commonly used to refer to "an experimental early version designed to test what can and cannot be fit into a furbished model". Bonus points for including [[SuperPrototype more powerful versions of features the production model lacks]]. In actual engineering, this is the definition of a ''Concept Model'' (or Concept Car, as the most famous examples are from the automobile industry) while a real prototype is supposed to be as close to the final production model as possible.
* '''Venerable'''. These days, the word has come to mean "old", but that's not the correct definition. Venerable (literally, "worthy of veneration") refers to something that has achieved respect through age, wisdom ''or'' character. So, it's entirely possible for an 18 year old boy to be "venerable" if he shows great character and wisdom, but these days, you'd probably get a funny look from both the person you're speaking to ''and'' the boy if you call him that.
** The Catholic Church uses the term in its original sense; when they refer to (for example) the "venerable Fulton Sheen", they are saying that they're fairly sure Archbishop Sheen lived a life of heroic virtue (and is therefore worthy of veneration), but they aren't (yet) prepared to say with certainty that Sheen is a saint.
* '''Mail''' is often used as a synonym of 'armour' (e.g. 'plate mail', 'scale mail') but this is an old name for a chain armour (only!) that comes from French word ''maille'' meaning 'chain'. This means that 'chainmail', although not an error per se, is a pleonasm at best. The latter word has been first used by sir Walter Scott and so the common misuse began. Use of the word 'mail' when referring to any kind of armour other than chain is incorrect.
* '''Shall''' and '''will''', the two auxiliaries used to form the future tense, are not completely interchangeable with each other. The traditional distinction is that to express the plain future, one uses ''shall'' with the first person and ''will'' with the second and third persons. But to express one's volition, one uses ''will'' with the first person and ''shall'' with the second and third persons. Thus, "I shall die" is a statement about the speaker's opinion of his fate, whereas "I will die" is a statement about the speaker's determination to die. Another example: "Bob will lose the game" is a statement about the speaker's opinion of whether Bob will win the game, whereas "Bob shall lose the game" is a statement about the speaker's determination to ensure Bob's losing the game.
* '''Leonardo da Vinci'''. Common usage refers to his works as "da Vincis" as though it were his last name, but Vinci is a location; Leonardo da Vinci literally translates to "Leonardo of Vinci." It's like saying something by Jerry of New York is created by "of New York." His full name was '''Leondaro di ser Piero da Vinci''' (Leonardo, son of Piero, from Vinci.)
* '''Arithmetic''' is not synonymous with '''Mathematics''' as it only covers the basic 4 operations {addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
* '''Trap''' has had its use hotly debated about over the years. Among Anime/Manga consumers, the term originally meant a boy of the OtokonokoGenre variety, i.e. a very convincing crossdressing male. Over time it devolved into simply [[DudeLooksLikeALady any male that looks effeminate enough]] regardless of what clothing he's wearing, or more peculiarly as a derogatory slur/ alternate nickname towards {{Transgender}} people. Its DistaffCounterpart term "reverse trap" is treated much the same way, however it also gets used for short haired girls or {{Tomboy}}s regardless of presentation.
* '''Triggered''' is when someone who suffered a traumatic event has said event replay in their minds when something "triggers" that specific memory. While having someone triggered generally does get them upset, it does not apply to people who are simply upset or angry at something that just bothers them (such as getting angry that their takeout order was wrong).
* '''Dice''' is the plural form of the word 'die' (as in, a little cube with dots on), however, it's used by many people as the singular form. For example, someone might say, 'I have a dice' which is equivalent to them saying something like 'I have a hamsters'. It gets ridiculous when people try and find a plural form of 'dice' and come up with the word 'dices', which actually means 'chops into small cubes'.
** "Dice" as a verb can also mean "to play dice games with", so "dices" can also be the third person present form of that verb (this is where the phrase "dicing with Death" comes from).
* No species of bat is blind and many species have vision which is as good as, if not better than, a human's, so someone who is as '''blind as a bat''' may actually have very good eyesight.
* '''Weight''' is a force and is measured in newtons, while '''mass''' is a property of an object which determines the magnitude of this force, and is measured in grams. An object on the moon would weigh less than it would on Earth due to the difference in gravity, but its mass would remain constant.
* A '''pterosaur''' is not a '''dinosaur''', though they are related. Technically, the term 'dinosaur' only refers to reptiles from the groups Ornithischia and Saurischia, which excludes flying reptiles like pterosaurs as well as marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs.
* Terms '''commune''' and '''collective''' are often interchangeable and making a distinction between the two is sometimes portrayed as a case of InsistentTerminology. In reality they are two completely different forms of organization. In commune, property is collective, so it belongs to the organization rather than individuals. In collective, things are also shared but they remain personal property of respective individuals. Also, traditionally, 'commune' means groups that is living together while 'collective' refers to people who live separately and only work together using shared means to achieve their goals.
* '''Detonation''' is often used to describe the combustion of any explosive, but technically only refers to the combustion of high explosives, which produce shock waves which travel faster than the speed of sound. '''Deflagration''' is the proper term used to describe the combustion of low explosives, which produce a flame front which travels much more slowly than the speed of sound.
* If an outcome of a scenario is '''likely''', that isn't necessarily the same thing as it being '''probable'''. If it's "likely", that just means that one can reasonably predict that it might occur. If it's "probable", then one can reasonably predict that it might occur based on principles of '''probability''', a branch of mathematics that uses numbers to weigh multiple possible scenarios against one another. Probability assumes that (all other things being equal) outcomes are more likely if there are a greater number of opportunities for them to occur.[[note]] When rolling a pair of dice, for example, it's more probable that one will roll certain numbers if there are more combinations that will result in those numbers.[[/note]] Many events are "likely" for reasons that can't necessarily be expressed mathematically, but an event isn't "probable" ''unless'' its likelihood can be expressed mathematically.
* The term '''UsefulNotes/IvyLeague''' is commonly used to refer to the eight private universities in the Northeastern United States that are generally considered the country's most prestigious academic institutions. [[note]] Harvard University in Massachusetts, Columbia University in New York City, Cornell University in upstate New York, Princeton University in New Jersey, Yale University in Connecticut, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Brown University in Rhode Island, and the University of Pennsylvania in...[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Pennsylvania]].[[/note]] Officially, though, it's a sports term that specifically refers to the collegiate athletic conference that those schools compete in. And before it came to have connotations of elitism and academic excellence, "Ivy League" was a fairly neutral grouping; those eight schools just happened to compete in the same conference because they're in the same geographic region. These days, though, the term has been widely adopted as a general term for the schools, and nearly ''everybody'' recognizes it as such.
* '''{{Netorare}}''' and its counterpart ''netori'' get subjected to this treatment by western internet fans. Originally referring to a specific scenario of [[YourCheatingHeart cheating]] (that is to say, a woman/man being stolen away by another for shame and sexual titilation), it since evolved into a catch all term for when a character's crush doesn't return their feelings and dates someone else, no relationship or shame required. It also sees usage when a character first starts out liking another, but falls out of love with them for whatever reason and looks to another.
** At this point, it’s pretty clear that when the name of an anime genre is adopted by Western fans, it ''will'' be misused. No exceptions.
* '''Miracle''' is often misused to mean a really lucky event, typically one so lucky it seems like it must be magical. It actually means an event that's ''impossible'' without breaking the laws of nature/reality (a literal DeusExMachina, if you will.) Thus, if you fall out of an airplane without a parachute and land just right so you are unharmed, you're just really lucky. If, however, you survive due to God teleporting you to safety or sending an angel to catch you, that's a miracle.
* Despite most people treating '''Coronavirus''' as the name of the specific virus involved in the international outbreak of 2020, that's actually just the ''class'' of virus it belongs to -- in other words, it's not specifically named "Coronavirus", it just happens to be ''a'' coronavirus. Unfortunately the actual name is the rather less snappy '''Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2''' or [=SARS-CoV-2=] for short. Despite SARS being the familiar name for another coronavirus, the name SARS 2 hasn't caught on.
* '''Bourgeoisie''', in the Marxist sense, is sometimes simply used as a fancy synonym for rich people. It actually is a bit more complicated: the bourgeoisie are the people in charge of the means of production (i.e the people in control of factories and the like.) One can be rich without be a member of the bourgeoisie, as some rich people [[IdleRich don't actually make anything.]]
* '''Semester''' is sometimes used for schools that have three school terms, such as those in Japan(for example, in ''[[{{VideoGame/Persona 5}} Persona 5 Royal]]'', the part from January to February that is exclusive to [[UpdatedRerelease Royal]] is called the "Third Semester"), even though the word refers to a half-year term, and a more appropriate term would be ''trimester.''
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Very Pedantic]]
* '''Accuracy''' and '''precision''' are not the same thing. "Accuracy" is how close to the target one is, "precision" is how close together one's shots are. If one were to shoot at a circular target and all of the shots hit the outermost ring, but are grouped very closely together, then one is very precise but not very accurate.
** Similarly, accuracy and precision are often confused when describing the merits of a firearm - they are often described as accurate when the correct word would be precise. Only a human operator can make the firearm ''accurate''; a firearm is ''precise'' when it can consistently place shots in a predictable location.
** The distinction is extremely important in the hard sciences: precision is the specificity of a measurement (in practice, the number of decimal places in the value), while accuracy is the degree to which it is correct. To claim that a kilogram of iron has a mass of 70.0000000000000000000000000000001 grams is very precise, and not at all accurate.
* An '''acronym''' is a type of initialism which forms a word, such as "laser" ('''l'''ight '''a'''mplification by '''s'''timulated '''e'''mission of '''r'''adiation), or "amphetamine" ('''a'''lpha-'''m'''ethyl-'''ph'''en'''et'''hyl'''amine''').[[note]]An initialism does not need to be composed ''entirely'' of initials; it can contain word fragments or whole words. See [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initialism The Other Wiki]] for more information.[[/note]] This distinction is commonly ignored; Creator/TheBBC and ''[[UsefulNotes/BritishNewspapers The Guardian]]'' are just two mainstream media outlets who are happy to use "acronym" as though it were synonymous with "initialism".
* This one is probably a lost cause, but '''Adorable''' technically means "deserving of adoration" rather than just being a stronger word for cute. Most dictionaries still include this as a definition, but notes that using it to mean "cute" is a lot more common.
* '''Ago''' means earlier than the ''present'' time, not earlier than a more-recent past time. It is commonly misused in contexts where "earlier" or "prior" would be more appropriate.
* '''Akimbo''': The word "akimbo" means "bowed" or "bent", and is most often used for arms bent with hands resting on hips. Perhaps because this pose is often used by two-pistoled gunfighters in media, the word is sometimes mistakenly applied to any situation in which someone has a matched pair of weapons in his hands. The names of the tropes GunsAkimbo and SwordsAkimbo feature this mistake. A noted example of the correct meaning is a one-time ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}'' villain named Arms Akimbo, whose arms are permanently stuck in place, hands on his hips.
* An '''alicorn''' is the horn of a unicorn, or to be more specific, the substance from which the horn is made. It was believed to have healing powers as early as the 13th century. However, starting with the novels of Creator/PiersAnthony (And popularized even further by the massive PeripheryDemographic of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''), it has come to mean "WingedUnicorn".
** This leads to an interesting false etymology: ''ali-'' is an existing but uncommon Latin prefix for "wing", in addition to the better-known ''-corn'' meaning "horn".
* '''Alien''' used to refer to anyone or anything not native to a country. (For example, a Mexican in America could be called an alien.) Hence the phrase "outer space alien", meaning the being isn't native to Earth. However, the meaning has been muddled up over the years, so that whenever you mention the term "alien" people will automatically think of the outer space kind, and will give you very strange looks when you call a Mexican an "alien" (unless you add "[[TheIllegal illegal]]"). Government documents will use "alien" in the proper use of the word, however (such that, for instance, an [[Webcomic/ElGoonishShive Uryuom]] with U.S. citizenship [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=412 would not be an alien]] in the eyes of the U.S. government).
* An '''android''' is something 'man-like', not necessarily a robot. A shop mannequin is an android, and so would be a hobbit. In some works of SpeculativeFiction it means "humanoid robot", in others "robot that resembles a human", in yet others "organic ArtificialHuman". Androids should also not be confused with '''cyborgs''': androids are completely inhuman, whereas a cyborg is at least partly human (or, in science fiction, partly alien).
** For that matter, the first use of the word "robot" has in ''Theatre/{{RUR}}''. The robots in the play were organic constructs, not mechanical ones that are often pictured when the word is used. (Specifically, "robot" is the Czech word for "slave", and the original concept of robots was that they were like slaves in that they were sentient beings working for humans, except they were artificial.)
** The proper term for a [[RobotGirl female man-like robot]] is gynoid - "woman-like". In this sense the words are still used in context of obesity.
* '''Anal''', by itself, technically just means "relating to the anus". While it's often used as a shortening of '''Anal retentive''' (stuck up or nitpicky), this is considered slang and not a "proper" definition.
* '''Anniversary''', means a celebration of one year, the root word ''annus'' (note the two n) being Latin for "year". However, it's used commonly by young people to refer to any time together from weeks to months to years. (A celebration of a month would be a "mensiversary", but that's a highly archaic term.) On another note, it's also quite common to disregard "celebration" as part of the word's definition -- which could resort in some discomfort when one mentions "the anniversary of 9/11", to say the least.
* The '''arm''' technically lies solely between the shoulder joint and the elbow joint. Similarly, the '''leg''' lies between the knee joint and the ankle joint. They are parts of the upper and lower extremities, respectively.
* '''Armageddon''' and '''Apocalypse''' are not the same thing. Apocalypse, literally, simply means "revelation", but since the biblical Book of Revelation (also known as the Apocalypse of John) is mostly concerned with the end of the world, that is what "apocalypse" has come to mean. Armageddon, on the other hand, means "the mountain of Megiddo", where the final battle between good and evil will take place according to the Book of Revelation. The correct fancy word to use when discussing TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt is '''eschaton''' (the branch of theology concerning itself with the end times is hence called '''eschatology''').
* '''Artificial''' originally meant "full of skilled artifice" (''i.e.'' constructed expertly), rather than just "something constructed by humans in imitation of something natural".
* '''Aryan''' was originally a Sanskrit word associated with India, meaning "noble" or "civilized". The Nazis, unfortunately, used it as their word for racial purity, and in modern times, it is now associated with them and white supremacy.
* The phrase '''as such''' needs a precedent noun. "I am an adult citizen of this republic and ''as such'' have the right to vote in its elections": "such" means "such a person", ''i.e.'' "an adult citizen". "As such" is not a fancy synonym for "thus" or "therefore".
* The word '''average''' came from the french word for a damaged ship or shipment, avarie. This was anglicized into average during the colonization of the Americas, when there was a lot of English-to-French trade. Every time a shipment was damaged, they would calculate the total amount each person would have to pay by splitting the total up into equal pieces. Taking an average eventually moved from "splitting a sum up into equal parts" to "the most equal division of a certain sum", which is its modern definition. You can see a bit of this old influence in the mathematical average calculation, which still involves adding things up and then dividing them.
* The word '''awful''' used to mean "deserving of awe" (''i.e.'' "awe-full"), and was originally a ''good'' thing to call something. In modern times, the word "awesome" has suffered the same fate, having the same meaning as "awful" originally did (''i.e.'' something that is deserving of awe, something that people are awed by), but nowadays it is frequently used to mean "cool" or "impressive".
* '''Begging the question''' is starting an argument by assuming what you want to prove. The phrase is far more often used to mean what is properly called '''raising the question'''.
* The scientific definition of a '''berry''' concerns how a fruit stores its seeds. Under this definition, grapes and tomatoes are berries, but strawberries and raspberries are "aggregate fruits".
* '''Bestiality''' is any sexual act considered "bestial", including incest or sodomy. Sexual attraction to animals specifically is '''zoophilia'''.
** Also note that "bestiality" refers to an ''act'', while "zoophilia" refers to an ''attraction'' on which one may or may not act (that said, an act may be a requirement of formal psychological diagnosis). Partly because many humans experience sexual attraction as a powerful compulsion, people tend to conflate ''attraction'' and ''action'', but they are distinct (see similar notes for "pedophilia" below).
** "Sodomy" itself is a very vague term, as it's not exactly clear what the "sin of Sodom" originally was. (In Literature/TheBible Sodom is associated with a number of sins, some of them non-sexual, such as [[SacredHospitality inhospitality]] and cruelty to the poor.) Nowadays the term is commonly understood to mean "anal intercourse", but in law, it can mean a variety of purportedly deviant practices.
* '''Big Ben''' is the name of the bell at the top of the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster in London. The tower itself was simply known as the ''Clock Tower'' until 2012[[note]]some old sources call it "St. Stephen's Tower", but this was only a nickname, never an official one[[/note]], when it was renamed the ''Elizabeth Tower'' for [[UsefulNotes/HMTheQueen the Queen's]] Diamond Jubilee, not Big Ben.
* A '''bigot''' isn't a racist or sexist or any other kind of "hater" you can think of. In fact, a bigot doesn't judge people at all - or at least not their intrinsic natures. When the word first became common during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, it was used to mean someone who wouldn't tolerate other people's ''opinions'' - particularly a person's religious beliefs, or lack thereof. The play ''Theatre/InheritTheWind'' uses the word in its original sense frequently. It was probably the TV series ''Series/AllInTheFamily'' that was most responsible for shifting the definition of ''bigot'' all the way to "hater."
* '''{{Bishonen}}''' (美少年[[labelnote:hiragana]]びしょうねん[[/labelnote]])is only supposed to mean androgynously attractive ''underaged'' (specifically, under eighteen) males, with 美男子[[labelnote:hiragana]]びだんし[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]bidanshi[[/labelnote]] addressing of-age examples. Of course, outside Japan, very few care about these subtle distinctions.
* '''Black and white''' images contain shades of grey. The technical term in the image-processing business is '''greyscale''', with "black and white" referring to images that have been reduced simply to those two colours.
* The meaning of '''boat''' is highly variable. On the Great Lakes, any vessel that floats on the surface of the water is a boat -- from the smallest rowboat to the largest thousand-footer. Visiting oceanic vessels are called "salties". Also, in naval use, a '''boat''' is any watercraft small enough to be taken aboard a larger '''ship'''. The use of "boat" for a submarine -- the largest of which are the size of old battleships -- comes from the origin of the type: when military submarines started appearing in numbers in the late 1800s, they were classified as "submarine torpedo boats" -- ''i.e.'' underwater torpedo boats.
** Related to the submarine example, any ship or craft regardless of size that uses only one weapon or one system is sometimes called a [weapon name] boat. For example, a craft that has nothing but missiles for weapons may be called a missile boat.

* Technically, the proper idiom for being highly eager to commence is '''champing at the bit''', not '''chomping at the bit'''. Champing at the bit is an equine reference when horses to chew on the bit when the animal is impatient or eager. Horses ''do'' '''chomp''' at the bit sometimes, but for entirely different reasons, usually when they're upset or angry. However, thanks to the verb "to champ" being archaic these days, people interchange "chomp" for "champ".
* To '''chastise''' isn’t to tell someone off; it’s to administer CorporalPunishment. '''Castigate''' is the same.
* '''Chauvinism''' originally meant extreme patriotism and nationalism, and the belief in one nation's superiority over others. It has since evolved to mean a belief in the superiority of a specific group of people (not necessarily a nation) over other groups. One example of such is male chauvinism, which is probably the most common meaning today. The term is also often confused with '''sexism''', which is prejudice and discrimination based on sex.
* '''Computer''' originally comes from the verb "to compute", which means to calculate. In the early twentieth century, people who calculated the exact time were called computers. The meaning the word has today is derived from this, as computers were originally built to calculate mathematical equations.
** On the lowest level, that's all a computer does, even today. Browsing the web, playing an ego shooter, or writing texts in a word processor ultimately amounts to nothing but basic mathematics plus the copying of data -- plus conditional jumps, which again amount to the calculation of an address, and setting some data accordingly. On top of that, it's layers upon layers of abstraction.
** In the 19th century, the words “computer” and “calculator” were used interchangeably to designate the people--generally women--who did the number-crunching behind the hard sciences.
* '''Conscious[=/=]self-conscious''': "Self-conscious" typically means "unduly conscious that one is observed by others" where "conscious" is taken to mean "immediately aware of". Less commonly, they are both used to mean "self-awareness" and things to that general effect.
* '''[[UsefulNotes/PoliticalIdeologies Conservative]]''' should not be used to describe someone who is opposed to change of any sort, let alone somebody who wants to turn the clock back to an earlier era. That is a '''reactionary''', and such people are actually quite rare nowadays[[note]]outside the Internet, [[{{GIFT}} of course]][[/note]]. A conservative merely argues that things should not be changed if it is not absolutely necessary to do so, or that change should come as gradually as possible. Many conservatives in the past have been willing to accept economic reform (and, to a lesser extent, social reform) as long as the cultural norms of civilization itself were left untouched.
** "Conservative" and "liberal" have come to mean very different things than when the terms were more or less established in the French revolution; ''les conservateurs'' were those opposed to the social ideals of the revolution and wanted to "conserve" the monarchy -- and, incidentally, sat on the right wing of the French parliamentary chamber -- while ''les libéraux'' were those intent on "liberating" the people from monarchic rule. In the past few decades, conservatives have been more about binding personal liberties ("conserving" the social order) while disestablishing the state ("liberating" people -- in theory, anyway -- from rulership), while the liberal side of the equation seems to maintain its intent to open up social freedoms while maintaining (or even ''increasing'') the role of the state. This is the problem with defining a multi-dimensional question on a simple left/right axis. Political theorist David Nolan (creator of the Nolan chart, which corrects for the inconsistencies of the left/right axis) has suggested that ''populist'' be substituted for what most Americans refer to as ''liberal'' - fitting, since American liberalism is usually thought to have split into its "classical" and "modern" wings in the 1890s, when the Democratic party (cautiously) co-opted the People's (or "Populist") party in order to blunt the accusation from socialists and others that they were no different from the Republican party.
*** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism ''Classical'' liberalism]], interestingly, is a political philosophy in which the freedom of the individual person is prized over all other ideals -- however, the freedom of any individual stops at the point where it begins to infringe upon the freedom of ''other'' individuals ("liberal" still has this sense in mainland Europe; in North America "libertarian" is closer, though not quite synonymous). How this intersects with the modern Anglosphere's liberal paradigm, which favors increasing safety regulations (up to and including seat-belt laws), is an interesting question.
*** It gets even more complicated, because "conservatism" also is often used in philosophy as a description of behaviour based on some non-negotiable principles or values and thus it is more a opposition of "opportunism" or "pragmatism". The values may be of any kind, so it is completely possible to be a "conservative liberal" (this is the description actually used by at least several European libertarian parties) if one considers liberty to be a non-negotiable value. In this vein, a conservative liberal will vote in favour of any solution that maintains liberty at the cost of safety, while conservative securitarian may be eager to forfeit freedom to increase security. The name "conservative" comes from the fact that such people did not wanted to ''change'' their values but rather tried to find new applications for them.
** Intertwined with the above controversy is the common blurring of the line between ''society'' and ''culture''. The "social" structure is just that - a structure, an artificial construct created by humans to preserve law and order according to an arbitrary standard; whereas "culture" is more organic, more universal (at least in theory), and primarily concerned with anything humans do that is not necessary for survival (religion, art, entertainment). One can be both culturally liberal in believing that artists have the right to create pornography and socially conservative in insisting that that pornography never be distributed to - let alone involve - children. Similarly, one can be culturally conservative by remaining a good Christian or Jew or Buddhist, but socially liberal if those religious beliefs lead one to oppose the status quo in the name of a higher standard of justice (anti-abortion protesters, for instance).
* When a person is cremated, what their relatives get back are actually called '''cremains''' (as in [[{{Portmanteau}} "cremated remains"]]), although this word was apparently coined in the mid-1950s by funeral directors who wished to avoid the word "ashes".[[note]]The earliest known use in writing is from ''Magazine/{{Time}}'' magazine in 1954.[[/note]] Ashes are the remains of incompletely-consumed combustible material; what is returned to the family following a cremation are the ashes and pulverized fragments of incompletely combusted bones. In any work created prior to 1954, "ashes" would be completely correct.
* '''Crescendo''' is the process of getting louder, or greater in some other way, ''not'' a rise on pitch, or to the peak reached at the end of that process. So something can't “reach a crescendo”--well, it can, but that would mean the point where things ''start'' to get more intense--much less “build to a crescendo”. The word you're probably looking for is '''climax''' (although pedants would point out that "climax" is Greek for ladder, and originally meant something similar to "crescendo". A pedant might recommend "apex", "acme", "pinnacle" or "zenith" instead.) Jamie Bernstein has suggested that the word is misused this way "because the sound of the word so felicitously evokes the crashing of cymbals: 'the crash at the end-o.'"
* '''Crucifix''' is a depiction of a crucified Christ (hence the name), usually sculpted (but also painted or engraved). The cross without the depiction of Christ is not a crucifix, but simply a 'cross'.
* '''Cryogenics''' is the study of very low temperatures; the preservation of living tissue at such temperatures is accurately called '''cryonics'''.
* '''Culture Shock''' was originally a term describing a situation where either two cultures with vastly different levels of technology meet, or an isolated culture is exposed to a much larger community (for instance, humanity making contact with another alien species for the first time, or Japan's centuries of isolationism under the Tokugawa Shogunate ending) For instance, the Native Americans meeting the New World explorers and later pioneers is a valid case of culture shock. This is also the term that was used in ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' to describe why the US Government kept the knowledge of the Monolith secret at first. The much more mundane meaning of the word (an individual adjusting to life in a different culture) has completely replaced the original meaning of the word.
* '''Cutpurse''' is, today, used in EpicFantasy as a synonym for either "pickpocket" or "mugger". In fact, a cutpurse is neither. A purse, in this context, is a small pouch, hung from a belt, which would normally hold coins or valuables. A cutpurse would cut the strings or straps attaching the purse to the belt, and take the entire purse. Alternatively, a cutpurse would cut the bottom of the purse open and steal the contents that way. A pickpocket, (called a "dip" in medieval times) would take objects out of the purse without tampering with it, and a mugger would threaten or beat the victim until he handed over the purse.
** Modern cutpurses still exist. They are thieves who remove items from pocket by making a slice under the object like wallet (specially one worn in the inner pocket) and allowing the gravity to help them in the task.
* '''Datum''': Originally, "data" was a plural [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Count_noun count noun]] referring to multiple items of recorded information. A single such item was a datum. However, sometime in the 1960s or so (basically, concurrent with the rise of computers) the usage shifted so that "data" is a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_noun mass noun]]. So now it's much more common to say "the data is" and "this data point is" rather than "the data are" and "this datum is". Many modern style guides not only accept but mandate this usage. Nonetheless, it still drives some people up a ''wall''.
** It doesn't help of course that "datum" is now generally used to describe not just any old "data point" but a specific reference point, depriving data of its singular and making this a bit of a lost battle.
** The word media also is starting to show signs of abuse (e.g., "removable media" for a single CD-ROM). If you really want shocking, however, look no further than French, where "media" (as in newspapers) is now most commmonly used as the singular and "medias" as its plural—and that's in a so-called Latin language.
** The word “agenda” was similarly originally plural (“things that are to be done”). This usage did not last long.
* '''Deadly sins''': Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, and Wrath are, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the "seven cardinal vices". The term "Deadly sin" or "mortal sin" refers to any sin that is serious enough to separate a Christian from the grace of God, unless the sinner undergoes the sacrament of reconciliation (confession, penance, and absolution). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Cardinal Vices are contrasted with the Cardinal Virtues, and refers to character traits that are the root of all sin. For instance, one does not murder simply for murder's sake, but because Wrath was awakened when the person was wronged, or because Greed was awakened when the person saw an opportunity to get money, etc.
* '''Decadent''' is sometimes thought to mean "luxurious". It actually means "falling into an inferior condition" (sharing its roots with "decay"), and is nearly synonymous with "degenerate". The common conception is perhaps given to us through the image of the "decadently" wealthy in some common ideas and some [[DeadlyDecadentCourt historical examples]], which doesn't refer to a lavish lifestyle that we would expect, but probably the sort of mentality that encourages inbreeding and jealous paranoia.
* '''Decimate''' comes from the Latin ''decimō, -āre'', which means "to take a tenth part of something". Decimation was the Roman practice of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimation_(Roman_army) executing one of every ten men in a rebellious or cowardly legion]]. The word also referred to the practice of tithing. However, it has been used since the 19th century to mean "destroy a large part of", no matter what proportion of a group was devastated. This is now by far the most common way the word is used, but [[http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1025 some still object to the loss of the original meaning]].
** Actors may complain their agents decimate their salary -- and would be technically correct!
** A BBC game show called ''Decimate'' aired in 2015 and used the word in the sense of "reduce by one tenth" (in this instance, reducing the prize fund by that proportion). It didn't result in a revival of that sense though, as just about the only praise, or in fact notice of any kind, that the show got was from the handful of pedants pleased that it used the word correctly.
* '''Demon''' is a catch-all term for any supernatural living being, with no implication of benevolence or malevolence. The term gained a negative connotation starting with the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible, and is now colloquially used to refer to evil spirits or fallen angels.
* '''Despot''' (Greek δεσπότης[[labelnote:romanization]]despótēs[[/labelnote]], meaning "master"; feminine: δέσποινα[[labelnote:romanization]]déspoina[[/labelnote]]) was a court title of the Byzantine empire, roughly meaning "lord." A despot was given control of a smaller region of the empire, called a despotate. It was only when American revolutionaries said that the British were ruling them as they would an imperial outpost that "despotism" and "despot" came to be pejorative. Despotism was also associated with ''absolute authority'' before it became associated with ''unjust authority''.
* '''Destiny''' was generally defined as an ''inevitable, unalterable'' future event. Language has shifted enough such that it is now more generally known, even in many dictionaries, as a generalized word for forthcoming events, making phrases such as "changing one's destiny" retroactively correct.
** '''Doom''' is another word for "destiny" or "fate". It doesn't have to be bad.
*** And '''Doomsday''' is referring to judgement, not to destruction. (See [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfNormandy William The Conquerer]]'s "Domesday Book", which was basically a census of his new realm.)
* '''Dictator''' was originally someone who wielded absolute power in AncientRome at the behest of the Senate in times of emergency, and his time in office was restricted to six months, until the next election; one may not have ''liked'' the particular dictator in question, but the office itself wasn't a bad thing compared to the emergency under which it arose (and in the Republic, the Romans did ''not'' like kings). Only when Caesar became dictator ''for life'' did some republicans begin to resent it, and even up to millennia later, in the 19th and early 20th centuries (when democratic ideals were still taking root in much of the Western world), it wasn't necessarily a bad title compared to, say, hereditary absolute monarchy. Essentially, the modern usage of the term focuses on the "taking power and ruling absolutely" part of the definition, ignoring the part about said rule being ''limited and temporary''.
* A '''dilapidated''' building or object is one in a state of disrepair because of age or neglect. A few pedants insist that only a ''stone'' building can be dilapidated as the word comes from the Latin ''lapis'', "stone". During TheDungAges especially folks would often take stones from old buildings to build or repair their walls.
* '''Dilemma''' involves a choice between two options, neither of which is desirable. A common misuse of this word is to refer to any difficult situation. Terms like '''trilemma''' and so on have been used for situations involving a choice between three options.
* '''Dimension''': A "dimension" is technically just a set of directions, of which we have three in space (up/down, left/right, and forward/back, relative to the observer). Above three, things get more theoretical, with time being one proposed fourth dimension, and others being extrapolations based on the first three (i.e., the fourth dimension being orthogonal to the first three). However, the word "dimension" is commonly used for an AlternateUniverse, in the sense of a place where the physical laws are entirely different from those in a place you could reach by traveling along another spatial dimension. See also: AnotherDimension. This is only ''very slightly'' less pedantic than "universe".
** It means rather something more similar to "degree of freedom". If a world has 9 dimensions, I can move a point in 18 independent directions; if a vector space has 9 dimensions, I can have 9 linear independent vectors. The problem with a word set is that cardinality of set is described by cardinal number (0, 1, 2, ... + various infinities) while there are branches of mathematics when you meet 2.5-dimensional objects.[[note]]And not in the sense of TwoAndAHalfD, mind you.[[/note]]
** This is actually a contraction for "another set of dimensions". That is, a location which has up/down, left/right and forward/back axes, but where those are entirely unrelated to the set of dimensions bearing those directional indicators commonly experienced. One could use "parallel universe" to mean the same thing (but see above). The implication is that physical laws are the same (which they need not be in a multiverse) but the spatial dimensions are unconnected to the ones we experience. A related phenomenon would be people referring to the first three dimensions as simply "the third dimension"; it implies the existence of the other two.
** The malapropism is sort of a half-understood thing. People that actually understand what they're writing about generally refer to other "planes of existence" that are displaced in some other dimension, which is related to the multiverse idea above but posits that other realities are simply displaced in a dimension we don't normally move along and can, in fact, interact.
* '''Due''' is an adjective, and needs a noun to modify. In the sentence "There is chaos due to misunderstandings," "due" modifies "chaos", not the whole clause "there is chaos". Thus, some of hyper-pedants would prefer that "due to" not be used in place of "because of".
* '''Eau Rouge''', strictly speaking, refers only to the fast left-hander at bottom of the hill at the famous Spa-Francochamps circuit. The equally famous right-hander at the top of the hill that immediately follows it that's sometimes also called Eau Rouge? [[{{Memes/Sports}} That's Raidillon, actually]]. The entire ''circuit'' has a mish-mash of confusing corner names, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3SR7ezGLmQ which the official Formula One YouTube helpfully has a primer on]].
* '''Ego'''[[note]]simply means "I" in Latin[[/note]], when used alongside terms like '''id''', is often assumed to be its opposite. In fact, according to UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud, the counterpart to "id" (basically, all your instincts and raw desires) is the '''superego''' (the critical, moral part of the mind). The "ego" acts as the mediator between the two, bringing RealLife into the mix. Crossword puzzles appear to be the most likely culprits here.
* '''Eke out'''. If Jane Austen says "the vicar ekes out a meager living by beekeeping", she doesn't mean he lives on nothing but the pittance that the bees bring him, she means the beekeeping supplements his inadequate stipend. ("Eke" is still occasionally used to mean "also".)
** A "nickname" was originally an "eke name", meaning an additional name.
* '''Electricity''' refers only to a "quantity of electricity", that is, an electric charge. It does not refer to anything which can take the adjective "electric", such as electromagnetic radiation (which is what most people mean when they say "electricity") electric energy, or electronics. It has gotten to the point where physicists no longer use the term "electricity" in scientific publications, because the colloquial usage is ambiguous, although they still use "electric" and "electrical" as adjectives (e.g.: that which we most commonly call "electricity," powering our light bulbs and computers and everything in between, is called "electric[al] current").
** In fact, the word "Electric" comes from the old Greek word for ''amber'', a homage to the fact that the first known way to generate elecricity was to rub amber on a woolen cloth. Eventually, people just adopted it as the word for electromagnetic radiation.
* An '''Epiphany''' technically means the manifestation of something supernatural (such as magic, gods, etc). The current meaning of "a sudden realization or flash of insight" is fairly modern, although most dictionaries accept it as a secondary definition.
** Somewhat surprisingly, the game ''VideoGame/{{Blood}}'' uses it the "right" way: the final level is called "The Hall Of Epiphanies" and is where you fight [[PhysicalGod Tchernobog.]]
* Most people think '''Epitome''' means the "perfect" example of something. Calling for example, a villain "the epitome of evil." It really just means a typical example of something, not the most extreme example. On a side note, it's pronounced "e''pit''-oa-mee", not "''e''pit-''oam''".
* '''Exception:''' For that matter, asking an official to "make an exception" for you is a misnomer because exceptions are already written into the law itself. However, the one enforcing it may make a '''derogation''' for you, and is sometimes legally empowered to do so.
* Strictly speaking '''extra''' means "outside of", not "on top of" or "more of it". This is why "extraordinary" makes sense. "Extralegal" means outside the realm of legality (''i.e.'' illegal), not something that is especially legal over and above the usual definition. "Extraterrestrial" (outside of Earth; from another planet) is probably most recognizable by the majority of people in its correct meaning thanks to Creator/StevenSpielberg's [[Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial film]].
* An '''extravaganza''' is a literary or musical work (often musical theatre) characterized by freedom of style and structure and usually containing elements of burlesque, pantomime, music hall and parody. It may more broadly refer to an elaborate, spectacular, and expensive theatrical production. It is not a party, however lavish the party may be.

* '''Fantastic''', most commonly used to mean "great" or "cool", literally means "the stuff of fantasy". Thus, [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Mordor]] is every bit as "fantastic" as Rivendell. Its change from original meaning to the current usage came about the same way as "incredible" and "unbelievable" came to mean something like "amazing". Interestingly enough, the Coolio song "Fantastic Voyage" uses the word in its classical sense, as do some of our SpeculativeFictionTropes.
** '''Fabulous''' ("the stuff of fables") is very similar, although nowadays its meaning has shifted ''again'' to have homoerotic undertones.
* People often use the terms '''First World''', '''Second World''' and '''Third World''' as though they refer specifically to levels of development. This is not quite correct. The terms were originally coined during the Cold War to describe the three main geopolitical alignments of the time -- that is to say, America and its allies (the First World), the Communist nations (the Second World) and those aligned with neither (the Third World). Admittedly, the Third World had from the very beginning connotations of low development and high poverty, whilst the eventual triumph of capitalism over communism as an economic system led to (generally) higher standards of living in the First World than in the Second World, but it should be remembered that these factors were coincidental, not definitive, and arguably, since the end of the Cold War, all three have become defunct, even though they're still used for more euphemistic equivalents of terms like GEDC and LEDC (Greater and Lesser Economically Developed Country, respectively).
** The first usage of the term '''Third World''' was a direct reference to the "third state" (''tiers état'') of France before the revolution, with the idea being that it was a group of countries that had no voice in international decisions concerning them. The author didn't coin the terms "First World" or "Second World" though, given that they would have made little sense in the analogy. (The staunchly antitheistic U.S.S.R. was the religious class?) As such, it does not refer to underdeveloped countries or countries with low standards of living, but states with limited geopolitical clout, and therefore states like Lithuania and Peru fill the bill, whilst Egypt and India do not.
** For the uncertain, the currently favored terminology is '''(Global) North''' and '''(Global) South''', with the South being the less-developed countries, and the North being the others. It's not a strict division along geographic lines: Australia and South Korea are firmly in the North, whilst China and North Korea are in the South.
* '''Football''', despite what some people say, is a perfectly legitimate name for American football, not just the international name for what Americans call '''soccer'''. Those sports are not called football because a ball is kicked around ''with'' the feet, but because they're played ''on foot'' (as opposed to, say, polo, which is played on horseback).
** To elaborate, in the 19th century, kids played their own versions of football however they felt like it. But soon after, there was a call in England for standardizing the rules of football, which of course led to lots of arguing. In the end the arguers settled on two games: rugby football and association football, which Americans call soccer. Not long after, other organized sports based on these two as well as others were formed (Australian Rules Football, American Football, Gaelic Football, ''etc''.--many of which are either derivatives or hybrids of rugby and association football) and all of these "football" sports have since gained a foothold in sports culture. Of course, since there are quite a few sports that claim the name football, many of these arguments continue on to this very day.
** It also should be mentioned that the British called it soccer first. ([[http://soccerlens.com/why-do-americans-call-it-soccer/3360/ No really, it's true.]])
* The original meaning of '''fornication''' is "to engage in consensual sexual acts with a person who is not your spouse". In modern usage, the term is often used to describe any form of sex deemed abhorrent by a religious group, such as adultery, homosexuality, bigamy, or various other actions viewed as taboo, something that can vary greatly among cultural lines.
* To '''frag''' someone originally meant [[UnfriendlyFire to kill someone on your own team]]. The term originated in the Vietnam War, where it was a term for unpopular soldiers being killed by their fellows (often with a fragmentation grenade, hence the name). The term was later picked up by the Deathmatch mode in ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'', where it popularized and shifted the definition over time towards "FirstPersonShooter jargon for a player kill".
* '''Frozen''' refers to a substance in the solid phase of matter. It does not have to do with cold temperatures. A rock is frozen, unless of course it is lava. Liquid nitrogen, on the other hand, is not frozen, despite the fact that it is cold. Freezing is the inverse process of melting, so dry ice is not frozen either. It is '''deposited''' carbon dioxide. Similarly, '''boiling''' just means that a substance in in the gaseous phase. Air is boiling, unless it is in a Dewar flask at cryogenic temperatures. Lava is not.[[note]]Nor is magma, which is what molten rock is called when it is underground. You probably knew that one, though.[[/note]] As boiling is the inverse process of condensation, neither is carbon dioxide. It is '''sublimated'''. '''Evaporation''' refers specifically to vaporization occurring below a substance's boiling point.
** The temperatures at which these changes happen are called "melting point" and "boiling point", regardless of which direction the phase change is going in. Water freezes at its melting point.
** In the original meaning of the term ''freeze'' meant to ''burn'' like burning coals. Technically anything that is frozen is burned either by fire, by the friction in wind, by chemicals or by cold.
* There is some debate regarding the origin of the word '''ghetto''', with one theory saying that it originated from the Venetian Ghetto. At one point in history, it referred the part of Venice where Jews were allowed to reside. It has expanded to mean any slum that is dominated by a single ethnic group. By the 1950s, the term was mostly used in the US to mean poor black neighborhoods. And, of course, the original ghettoes were what many Americans would call "suburbs" nowadays (as, indeed, they still are in Europe), whereas the typical American ghetto now is located in the "inner city."
** If you're interested: the word was first used in Venice, apparently about 1516. It may be short for ''borghetto'', a diminutive of ''borgo'' (related to English ''borough'' and German ''Burg'') meaning 'walled city'; but dictionaries say 'origin obscure'.
*** Incidentally Venice has a large segment -- separated from the bulk of the city by a wide channel -- with the suggestive name ''Giudecca'' because it was arguably the original Jewish quarter of the city (However, Jews were allowed to live in any area of the city before 1516). When it got fashionable among Venetian noble families to build their residence there, the Jews had to be relocated to the location of the present-day Ghetto, where a foundry the name probably came from (Venetian ''gheto''= slag) once stood.
* The meaning of the term '''gossip''' has shifted considerably over time, now generally meaning "Idle chatter or conversation involving unconfirmed news or rumors", or a person who habitually engages in the same. While it has somewhat judgmental connotations today, it was originally a fairly neutral term, meaning "A close friend or acquaintance". In fact, it started out as a corruption of the Old English term ''"godsibb"'', meaning "A family member to whom one is related in God" (e.g. "godmother" or "godfather").[[note]] The modern word "sibling" evolved similarly; it started out as a diminutive form of the Old English ''"sibb"'' or ''"sib"'' (meaning "family member"), indicating a family member who was younger than a parent or aunt or uncle.[[/note]] The meaning likely evolved when people began using the word to refer to the sort of friendly chitchat that one typically ''enjoys'' with close acquaintances, since "gossip" usually implies a greater degree of familiarity or intimacy than other forms of conversation.
* Ever since Creator/DashiellHammett used '''gunsel''' as a way of GettingCrapPastTheRadar, countless crime writers have used it to mean "gunman". Good luck with finding a [[IncrediblyLamePun straight]] use of the original meaning -- [[{{Uke}} a submissive male homosexual]] -- these days. And, for that matter, "hired gun" originally referred to any sort of criminal, not just an assassin, and the "gun" part came from the [[YiddishAsASecondLanguage Yiddish]] ''ganef'' ("thief"). Furthermore, "gun moll", a combination of the previous word and ''Molly'', [[IrishmanAndAJew the stereotypical name for an Irish woman]], originally meant not "lady with a gun", but "lady who hung out with thieves."
* '''Hierophants''' were priests in ancient Greece, and '''Cenobites''' were (and are) monks living in a monastic community. Nothing like the ''Franchise/{{Hellraiser}}'' folk, really. Or [[TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering the bio-augmented priests of the Machine Orthodoxy]]. We hope. And they most certainly aren't [[VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead undead flesh-eating mermen]]. In a modern example, the word Hierophant is used in its original context in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' and ''VideoGame/TacticsOgre''. You just don't want to get on the wrong end of said Hierophant...
** The Hierophant Arcana in Tarot was originally called the Pope. The Pope is a type of Hierophant, someone with religious authority.
* When the word was coined in the 1950s, a '''hippie''' was simply another word for "hipster" (and, less directly, "beatnik"): an "ethnic" white (typically Jewish or Italian-American) with a fondness for Black culture. Thanks to American sociopolitical prejudices, the word soon came to mean a bohemian and then a subversive of any sort, or even a Communist [[CulturePolice (the actual treatment of hippies in Communist countries should give the lie to this)]]. In the 1960s it was associated with sexual promiscuity and drug use, and opposition to UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar (the two groups did not necessarily overlap), and soon enough became a slur for any man with long and/or facial hair, whether he was a stereotypical hippie or not. Later, in the 1970s, as the environmentalist movement took off, a hippie came to be thought of as someone who wanted to "save the Earth", or more generally to turn the clock back to a "simpler" and more pastoral time (ironic, since the original definition suggested how ''modern'' American culture had become). Now "hippie" is often just a code word for "extreme left-winger", even though it's entirely possible to be a leftist and harbor conventional - or even puritanical - social mores (the Liberal party in nineteenth-century Britain supported prohibition of alcoholic beverages, and the UsefulNotes/StraightEdge subculture is a contemporary example).
* Being '''Hispanic''' and being Spanish aren't the same thing. Hispanic people are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. Hispanics may be white, black, aboriginal (as in "Native American", not the original people of Australia), Asian, or any combination of the above. Spanish people (also known as Spaniards) are from Spain, and ''only'' Spain. People may confuse the two terms because [[{{Spexico}} Spanish culture has a huge influence on Hispanic culture]] and is the name of the language commonly spoken by those people in those places, and indeed because many of these regions used to be part of the Spanish Empire, but that's like calling people from the U.S. "English". Not helping the confusion is that Hispanic until recently also sometimes meant 'of Spain', from ''Hispānia'', the Roman name for what is now known as the Iberian Peninsula, which is in Europe, and includes Spain.\\
In truth, neither "Spanish" nor "Hispanic" have any better geographical accuracy (in fact the Iberian Peninsula, containing Portugal, part of France, and other places that are neither Spanish nor Hispanic as it is understood, is slightly worse) and the use of either of them is because of their connection to the Spanish Empire. This is likely a factor in why the term "Hispanic" is slowly going out of favor and being replaced by Latino (for males)/Latina (for females) and more country of origin-specific names (''e.g.'' Chicano [for males]/Chicana [for females] for Americans whose predecessors came from Mexico).
** To further confuse matters, on many job and education applications, it is explicitly stated that "Hispanics may be of any race." This sometimes leads to people in polls being counted both as Hispanic and as members of a particular race (usually white); and since only non-Hispanic whites tend to be counted as "white", this inconsistency leads to too many white people, causing the sum total of a poll to [[TooManyHalves add up to more than 100 percent]]. The problem could be solved by substituting "mestizo" (which ''is'' a race) or simply "some other race" or "two or more races" (which are often included ''in addition to'' "Hispanic") for "Hispanic", since [[LatinoIsBrown that is what the great majority of Hispanic-Americans tend to be]].
** It doesn't help that different U.S. government agencies use different definitions -- sometimes excluding Spanish people, sometimes not, sometimes including Brazilians and Portuguese, sometimes only Brazilians...
** It would be more accurate to say "Hispanic is what people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race, are called in the U.S.A." People in Latin America don't think of themselves as being "Hispanic" most of the time (again, that would be like Americans referring to themselves as "English", or even "European"), although they may acknowledge some degree of shared culture. The most common racial terms in Latin America are ''blanco'' (white), ''mestizo'' (mixed white and Indian), ''indio'' (Indian), ''mulato'' (mixed white and black), ''negro'' (black), and ''zambo'' (mixed black and Indian).
** Also, Latino does not refer only to Spanish speakers. It means someone from the Americas who speaks Latin based languages. For example, Brazilians are considered Latino despite having Portuguese as their main language.
* '''Holiday''' has come to mean "any recognized occasion of celebration with special significance", or ([[SeparatedByACommonLanguage if you're British]]) "any period of personal leisure". Originally, though, it specifically referred to days of celebration with ''religious'' significance, which were officially recognized as such by the Church. Hence the word's etymology: it's a corruption of "holy day", which itself came from the Old English ''"hāligdæg"''. Thus, while holidays like Christmas and Easter would fit the old definition, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July would not. And even many contemporary religious holidays can stretch the old definition when their secular significance ends up eclipsing their religious signicance: very few people seriously celebrate Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Saint Patrick's Day as the eve of All Saint's Day, the feast day of Saint Valentine, and the feast day of Saint Patrick, respectively. [[note]] Even Christmas and Easter aren't ''entirely'' religious in nature: many nonbelievers celebrate both holidays as secular festivals marking the beginning and end of Winter.[[/note]]
* The word '''Holocaust''' has a meaning that comes to mind whenever it is mentioned, [[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust and it's not a pleasant one.]] The original meaning in ancient Greek was "given as burnt offering" or "completely consumed by fire". (Fans of ''Film/ThePrincessBride'' may remember how a "holocaust cloak" enabled Fezzik to appear as a flaming demon without being harmed.) Modern Jews would actually much prefer the word Shoah (שואה), a word meaning "calamity" or "tragedy" in Hebrew), be used for Nazi genocide, as they justifiably consider it mass-murder, rather than sacrifice.
* '''Horny''' should only be used to refer to male sexual arousal, since of course an aroused female has no horn.
* The term '''ikemen''' (イケ面) is supposed to refer to charismatic men, good looking guys, or {{Hunk}}s. Because of the tendency to use the word as "attractive male", it's become an alternate term for {{Bishonen}} among Japanese youth.
* '''If''' does not mean the same thing as "whether". "Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you," means you should inquire about getting a prescription if you determine that you should.[[note]]For all you grammarians, yes, there should be a comma after "doctor", but that changes the typical reading of that sentence.[[/note]] Please, ask your doctor ''whether'' this drug is right for you. However, examples of this usage go all the way back to ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}''.

* The word '''ilk''' does not mean “class” or “kind”; it means “the same”. “[=MacDonald=] of that ilk” means “[=MacDonald=] of ditto” (i.e. “of clan [=MacDonald=]”).
* '''Immolate''' means '''sacrifice'''. When a monk lights himself on fire to protest a war, he is engaging in "self-immolation" because he is killing himself to make a point, ''not'' because he is setting himself on fire. The root meaning was to sprinkle ''meal'' on the victim, in preparation for a sacrifice. Dictionaries today show the fire-based definition as an acceptable secondary.
* The word '''Inferno''' has come to mean "a raging fire" over time, but it was originally just the Italian word for "Hell"--which is why it's the title of the first part of Dante Alighieri's ''Literature/TheDivineComedy''. You might think that it's a simple case of figurative language, since "inferno" obviously conjures up images of the classic FireAndBrimstoneHell that's long been entrenched in the popular imagination in the West; of course, if you've actually read ''The Divine Comedy'', you'll recall that Dante's vision of Hell didn't quite fit that mold (he depicts the deepest circle of Hell as a deathly cold realm where sinners are entombed in ''ice'', not fire). The Italian "inferno" actually derives from the Latin "infra", meaning "under" or "below", from which we get the words "infrastructure" (an underlying structure or framework) and "infrared" (describing forms of electromagnetic radiation of a lower frequency than the color red); a rather more accurate English translation would actually be "Underworld". "Inferno" may have come to be associated with fire because of its similarity to the Latin "fornax" (meaning "furnace", "kiln", or "oven"), or perhaps just because images of fire and brimstone became increasingly popular in artistic depictions of Hell around the Renaissance. Either way, the connotations of the word have stuck ever since.
* '''Innuendo''' is anything that hints at something without saying it out loud, not just restricted to sex. It is perfectly possible to talk about a "racist innuendo", for example.
* The '''Internet''' is simply the protocol that allows two computers to connect to each other, and has been around in one form or another since the 1960s. When people refer to "the Internet" they often mean "the World Wide Web", which is an information space which runs through the Internet, that allows computer users to visit, edit and create web pages stored on remote servers.
* When it comes to intelligence tests, people use expressions such as measuring '''IQ'''. But that's a bit like saying that you're measuring the miles per hour of a car. You're not measuring its miles per hour, you're measuring its ''speed'', and miles per hour is simply the unit. Likewise, IQ is a unit used to measure a person's ''g-factor'', the theoretical construct for intelligence.
** IQ is in and of itself an incorrect term (unless the work happens to take place in the early to mid 20th century); the proper modern term would be '''IQ score'''. "IQ" stands for Intelligence Quotient and was proposed by Stern as a number derived from dividing the age which the individual's knowledge was most common at by the age they actually were. While this score worked fine for children, it was hard to construct valid scores for adults. The modern "IQ tests" such as the Stanford-Binet actually just centralize the bell curve of scores at 100 with an approximate standard deviation of 15 (and since the scores are derived from statistics, this means that [[UsefulNotes/IQTesting extremely high IQ scores are often meaningless]]).
*** Meaningless, because the highest percentile bracket maxes out at 99.99%, and the people who score higher than any 9999 other takers could cover a broad range of IQ scores. Even more meaningless over time because subsequently tested population may adjust the distribution of scores, regardless of how the center of the curve may be maintained.
* '''Item''' is Latin for "as well as"; the fact that it ended up preceding each object in a list gave it its modern usage.
* A '''jigsaw''' is a motorised saw which can cut wood into non-standard shapes. A puzzle made using a jigsaw is called a "jigsaw ''puzzle''" (and even then, the "jigsaw" part is largely an ArtifactTitle nowadays).
* '''Just deserts''' is spelt with a single "s" and has nothing to do with what you eat after the main course - "desert" in this context means "what is deserved", though such usage is now extinct outside this particular idiom.
* The Japanese word '''{{kaiju}}''' (怪獣[[labelnote:hiragana]]かいじゅう[[/labelnote]]) simply means "mysterious beast", but popular culture in general and Franchise/{{Godzilla}} in particular have shifted the definition more towards "[[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever giant ultra-destructive monster]]" (which would more properly be called a ''Dai-Kaiju''.
* '''Knots''': The nautical term for ''speed'' is "knots", not "knots per hour" (the term for ''distance'' is "nautical miles", not "knots"). "Knots" refers to an arcane method of measuring speed by counting knots in a rope but has since become "one nautical mile per hour". "Knots per hour" is, however, a valid unit for acceleration.
* '''Koi''' is Japanese for "carp", and so calling them "koi carp" as many people do is a tautology.
* The original '''labyrinth''' (λαβύρινθος[[labelnote:romanization]]labúrinthos[[/labelnote]]) of Myth/GreekMythology was a very complex maze; hence the use of a thread to find the way out. But the term shifted to describe what began as an illustration of the myth: a figure consisting of a twisty but unbranched path, such as appears on the floor of many old churches.
* The '''Last Rites''' of the Roman Catholic Church is not ''just'' the anointing of the sick with oil. It's a sequence of three rituals: Penance (Confession), then Anointing of the Sick, then Eucharist (Communion); the last is also called ''Viaticum'', "provision for the journey". Additionally, the Anointing isn't limited to being administered to the dying, which is why it's called Anointing of the ''Sick'', not Anointing of the Dying.
* A '''Luddite''' was originally a follower of Ned Ludd[[note]]who didn't actually exist, but that's another story[[/note]], who destroyed a weaving machine that had taken his job. The original Luddites campaigned against the replacement of human labour by new technologies. Nowadays, the word "luddite" (often not capitalised) is used to mean anyone who is opposed to new technology for any reason.
* '''Lust''' can colloquially just mean "generic sexual desire", but its classical theological definition is "the vice of excessive sexual act". So, first of all, as a vice, it has to be habitual (''i.e.'' committing adultery on one occasion but never considering it before or after is technically not "lust", but still vicious and qualifies as a mortal sin according to the Catholic Church). Secondly, it needs to be excessive, so simply desiring to have sexual intercourse isn't lust, or even wrong; only if one continually and intentionally dwells on sexual thoughts or continually and intentionally performs sexual acts can it be called "lust". This is further complicated because there is another, more archaic and almost never used sense of the word "lust", which is "to treat human beings as tools without giving them the proper dignity they deserve as humans". This sense of the word "lust" would apply to a man who has intercourse with a popular woman in order to gain social status; one can think of it as being related in that his sexual drive is perverted (''i.e.'' misused) because he uses sex for something besides procreation.
* The word '''mad''' used to exclusively mean insane. However, the term "mad with anger" meant someone extremely angry, so angry that it resembled madness. Over time, mostly in North America, it evolved into just "mad", though those English speakers will still not be confused when it is used to mean crazy, chiefly from context. In addition, the word '''madness''' has always meant a state of insanity in all English dialects.
* The word '''man''', today taken to mean a male member of humanity, in the original Old English refered to any member of the human species , which today is filled by human. The different sexes were differentiated by the prefixes "wer" for males, becoming '''werman''', and "wyf" for females, becoming '''wyfman'''.
* '''-mancy''' is often used as a general-purpose suffix to mean magic of some specific kind. For one thing, it's often incorrectly used as "-omancy", inserting an extraneous O into words that don't have one (like "blahomancy" rather than "blahmancy"). This probably stems from one of its most common uses being in "necromancy", where some might not quite realize exactly where the suffix begins. In addition, however, [[http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-mancy "-mancy" specifically refers to divination]], not magic in general. A fantasy sorcerer who raises the dead is not technically performing necromancy. However, this technical misuse of the term has become nigh-omnipresent in contemporary vernacular.
** TabletopGame/UnknownArmies has a sidebar on this very subject, and puts forward '''-urgy''' (from Greek, "technique for working with") as the proper suffix for magical styles.
* '''Marquess of Queensberry Rules''' has generally become to mean "[[GroinAttack don't hit me in the balls!]]", when actually, the Rules were a long set of pugilism regulations, as seen in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquess_of_Queensberry_Rules the Other Wiki]]. One of the rules is indeed no GroinAttack, but other rules include the arena size, no wrestling and no use of spiked shoes, and so on. In fact, modern pro boxing bouts follow a majority of the Rules.
* '''Massive''', strictly speaking, refers to an object that's particularly large, heavy, or bulky, i.e. it has a lot of mass. (The scientific definition goes even further; something that has mass is massive). Common usage, however, tends to apply the term to anything with a large scale: massive failure, massive ego, etc.
* '''Matinée''' means "that which takes up the space of the ''morning''" (from the French ''matin'', "morning"). The current meaning (an event in the afternoon) was an ironic one used by American high society as a way of referring to how they always woke up late. Also, the original rule of thumb was that anytime before dinner--originally the midday meal--was considered morning, but as dinner became a nighttime meal, the Matinée followed.
** The word is currently used to refer to an event that usually occurs at night (such as a movie showing) instead happening in the the morning ''or'' (by extension) the early afternoon.
* '''Mayhem''' is commonly used to mean chaos and disorder, but the original, and legal, definition is the act of maiming. People misinterpreted the word from phrases like "violence and mayhem", and the definition stuck.
* A '''meme''' is a unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted between people through communication. The word was coined by UsefulNotes/RichardDawkins, and he gave examples of melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (such as religions[[note]]Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen argue that something as complex as a whole religion isn't just a single meme, but what they call a ''memeplex''[[/note]]), clothing fashion, and the technology of building arches. Therefore, while a funny picture such as Longcat is an example of a meme, the word meme does not mean just "a funny picture".
* '''Mental illness''' or '''mental disorder''' is a poorly defined catch-all concept that encompasses abnormal patterns that renders someone (whether the affected individual or others) disabled, distressed or at a disadvantage. This ranges from stuttering and insomnia, to depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), to more threatening and victimizing conditions such as pyromania and pedophilia.
** It is not interchangeable with '''insanity''', which legally refers to a condition in which a person cannot mentally comprehend or prevent himself or herself from committing a crime. Not all mental disorders render people insane.
* '''Meta-'''. Ever since metacrawler the prefix "meta-" has been used to denote an aggregation (like in metacritic) when it is supposed to be used to denote a definition or something that goes beyond the original intent, ''e.g.'' metaphysics goes beyond traditional physics, metadata is data that defines the data, metacrawler is a search engine that crawls the HTML Meta tags on websites that are supposed to be used for defining what content is on your page. If used properly, metacritic would be a site devoted to critiquing the critics or even be a site like Wiki/ThisVeryWiki, not an aggregation of critical reviews.
** The Greek prefix ''Meta-'' in fact simply means "after". It has its modern origins in the work of Andronicus of Rhodes to put the surviving works of Aristotle in a sensible order. Andronicus was able to sort most of it into categories like "Politics" and "Poetics", but found himself with some miscellaneous writings that were hard to categorise. Andronicus put them together and inserted them into the overall scheme after "Physics". He had a good reason for this because the writings seemed to resemble physics at a deeper level, giving rise to the modern meaning. All the same, "Metaphysics" means "after physics" simply because that's where Andronicus put it.
* A '''meteoroid''' is a solid object moving in interplanetary space, of a size considerably smaller than an asteroid and considerably larger than an atom. When a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it is moving so fast that it compresses the air before it to the point that it is heated enough to melt and give off light. The streak of light in the sky this produces is a '''meteor'''; the rock itself is never called a meteor. If this streak is very bright, it is called a '''fireball''' or '''bolide''' (colloquially a '''shooting star'''). The solid remnant which hits the ground (or sea) is a '''meteorite'''. Meteorites are actually still very cold after they hit the ground (having been floating around in very cold space for quite a long time). However, the impact with the ground and the transfer of energy melts some of the rock or earth on the Earth's surface; this molten material is knocked away and when it solidifies is called a '''tektite'''. An '''asteroid''' is a chunk of rock larger than a meteoroid, floating freely in space.
* Geographically speaking, the '''Midwest''' is not "all parts of the United States between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains", which is how the word is commonly used today. That's '''Middle America''' you're thinking of, that term being much more geographically accurate. "Midwest" means "the nearer part of the West" (as opposed to the "far west", the Mountain States); so, Great Lakes and Great Plains states. Nor are ''Middle America'' and FlyoverCountry necessarily the same thing. "Flyover country" is a very culturally-variable term (since it has the subjective meaning "places you fly over but would never visit"); for one person it might mean "any rural area", for another it might mean "anywhere but the metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts".
** Originally, the term “midwest” or “middle west” denoted the part of the US between the Appalachian Mountains and ''the Mississippi river''. In everyday usage, the term has now shifted to mean the Great Plains (between the Mississippi river and the Rocky Mountains); the former Midwest--states such as Ohio and Indiana--is now generally treated as part of the East.
* '''Mixed Company''' originally meant a group containing both men and women. Nowadays it usually means something more like "A group containing individuals who might be easily offended" most likely this is due to SocietyMarchesOn.
* '''Modern''' in history refers to the period after Middle Ages which is still on-going. So "modern" technically could mean anything from renaissance to some time in the future. In arts, modernism refers to the movement in the late 1800's and early 1900's, hence why we already have "postmodern" art, literally "after-modern". Obviously the common meaning is perfectly acceptable but if you do want to avoid it, words like "current" or "present" should work. "Contemporary" on the other hand has its own problems as mentioned in YouKeepUsingThatWord/ModeratelyPedantic.
* '''Molest''' formerly meant to simply annoy or to bother, but has since semantically shifted to become a synonym for sexual abuse. That said, '''Unmolested''' still usually means "unharmed", and is hardly ever used to mean "not sexually abused."
* '''Moot''' comes from the Old English word for a meeting, wherein important issues were discussed. A moot subject was one deserving serious debate, not something of little or no relevance. The current usage comes from a corruption of "mooted"; a "mooted" thing means something previously debated, ''i.e.'', a settled thing. This has been settled usage for so long, though, that even the law courts use it; lawyers and judges are famously pedantic, so this is no small thing.
* In [[Franchise/MarvelUniverse Marvel media,]] '''mutant''' refers to a member of the subspecies ''Homo sapiens superior'' ([[TaxonomicTermConfusion not]] ''Homo superior''; baseline humans and mutants can have fertile children), characterized by the emission of a specific brainwave and usually, but not always, innate superhuman powers and/or anatomical oddities. People who gain superhuman powers or anatomical quirks through an outside agency or event are '''mutates'''. [[ComicBook/XMen Sunfire]] is a mutant; [[ComicBook/FantasticFour the Human Torch]], despite his similar powers, is a member of ''Homo sapiens sapiens'' and a mutate.
* '''Mystic''' and '''mystical''' are not synonyms. "Mystic" means "of hidden or symbolic meaning, especially in religion". "Mystical" means "of mystics or mysticism". "The mystic crystal ball" is correct; "the mystical crystal ball" is not, unless the aforesaid crystal ball is used by mystics. Technically, "mystical" also means "having spiritual meaning, value, or symbolism", so the crystal ball could be called "mystical" if it had spiritual value.

* '''Nakama''' (仲間[[labelnote:hiragana]]なかま[[/labelnote]]) means "friend", "comrade" or "colleague" in Japanese. If you were to stop a random Japanese person on the street of Osaka and ask, "Could you define the word 'nakama' for me?", the response wouldn't be "a group of friends who are as close as family", or "a group of friends that are ''closer'' than family". On the contrary, the response would simply be "friend", with none of the deeper connotations that people here on Wiki/TVTropes have ascribed to it. (Or at least, did, before [[Administrivia/RenamedTropes the trope name was changed]].) This incorrect use of the term originated in ''Manga/OnePiece'' fandom, though even there, only a small percentage of the ''One Piece'' fans insist that the word means anything more than just "friends".
** Possibly because the Japanese language has another term that means "friend", 友達[[labelnote:hiragana]]ともだち[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]tomodachi[[/labelnote]], and [[SarcasmMode clearly English-speakers just can't understand having two words that mean the same thing.]]
*** 仲間 and 友達 are '''not''' synonymous. 友達 is closer to the English "friend", referring to someone you consider an equal who is close to you, who you play, talk, and hang out with. 仲間 is more like "comrade", referring to someone who works with you in doing something, or is part of the same group. The two words are contrasted with some frequency.
*** A Japanese person, asked to explain the difference, might say that 友達 is closer to 親友[[labelnote:hiragana]]しんゆう[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]shin'yū[[/labelnote]] (basically ''best'' friend) and 仲間 is closer to 同志[[labelnote:hiragana]]どうし[[/labelnote]][[labelnote:romaji]]dōshi[[/labelnote]] (literally "same interests", and used as "comrade" by political ideologues like Marxists)—because practically every word in Japanese that's of native origin can be said in Sino-Japanese with slightly different connotations, much like how English can say both "Gallic manufacture" and "French handiwork".
* A '''nation''' is a collective group of people who share a racial or cultural identity. A '''state''' is a political entity that controls a geographical area. While the two often coincide, and are used as synonyms (since it became fashionable for the state to rule in the name of the people), there are plenty of places where they do not:
** [[{{UsefulNotes/Britain}} The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland]] is one state containing four nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The distinct ethnic groups hailing from each nation are ruled by a single political entity.
** Korea is a nation split into two adjoining states. Nowhere else in the world is there a homogeneous group of people so starkly divided by ideology.
** In {{UsefulNotes/Africa}}, the boundaries of nations and states rarely have anything to do with each other.
* When people hear the word '''nimrod''', they may think of a fool or lunkhead, but the word actually comes from a powerful figure in Literature/TheBible and Mesopotamian mythology. Nimrod was such a great hunter that his name became synonymous with hunters (The RAF even [[UsefulNotes/PlaneSpotting named a reconnaissance plane after him]]). However, when a popular ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short featured Bugs Bunny calling Elmer Fudd a "poor little Nimrod", children watching assumed that the word was an insult, and the interpretation stuck.
** It probably wasn't helped by the earlier ''WesternAnimation/FelixTheCat'' antagonist, named Nimrod, who was both a hunter and constantly made a fool of by Felix.
** It's not too far off though. Tradition says Nimrod became so full of himself that he began trying to replace God with himself, and started building the Tower of Babel to challenge him directly. To call that plan foolish would be an understatement.

* '''Oblivion''' technically means "the state of being forgotten about", and comes from the Latin ''oblivisci'', meaning "to forget". The use of the word to mean CessationOfExistence isn't wrong, although most dictionaries list the "being forgotten" definition first, as it's more consistent when the original etymology of the word.

* '''[Word]oholic''' is frequently misused to describe how you are addicted to [word] (such as being a self-proclaimed rageoholic if you are addicted to rage). If you are a rageoholic, you are addicted to '''[[PsychoSerum rageohol]]''', not rage.
** Homer Simpson actually uses this correctly, exclaiming "I'm a rageoholic! I just can't live without rageohol!", in the episode [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons "I am Furious (Yellow)"]].
* '''Orgy''' does not necessarily mean a ''sexual'' orgy. The word comes from ancient Greece, where an orgy was a secret nighttime cultic congregation overseen by an orgiophant (a teacher or revealer of secret rites), which was celebrated with dancing, drunkenness, singing, and other such things. Add those together, and sexual intercourse probably resulted from excessive booze and celebration. However, "orgy" can mean mass consumption of ''anything''; a popular non-sexual orgy is ''eating''. Some use the word "orgy" regarding violence.
* '''Orthodoxy''': While orthodox has taken on the meaning of "traditional", particularly in matters of faith, the term originally meant something more like "right opinion". The word literally derives from the Greek words ὀρθός[[labelnote:romanization]]orthos[[/labelnote]], meaning "right/correct", and δόξα[[labelnote:romanization]]doxa[[/labelnote]], meaning "opinion/to think/praise". Presumedly, the connotations of "traditional", "established", or "backwards" came relatively recently, as people who self-identify as "orthodox" also tend to reject more modern predilections towards reform and progressivism.
** Under the original definition, "political correctness" would be a type of orthodoxy (whether or not it is the norm in your area): there are certain beliefs that are deemed proper to hold about, say, women; and certain beliefs that are not. Indeed, Holocaust deniers are, under this sense of the word, unorthodox.

* '''Pathetic''' refers to something that provokes pity (sharing a root with words like "sympathy" and "pathos"). However, it is used more often to simply mean something is rubbish, with no connotation of pity.
** The original meaning is retained in the term '''Pathetic Fallacy''', which means ascribing feelings to an inanimate object, such as describing a stormy sky as "angry."
* '''PC''', used to refer to computers running Microsoft Windows, is an interesting case. PC is an initialism for "Personal Computer." In the literal sense of the term, this refers to any computer for use by a single person (as opposed to the room-sized computers which you accessed via a terminal), including such things as the Commodore 64 and yes, Apple computers. However, PC also refers to a specific computer architecture, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Personal_Computer IBM Personal Computer]] and its clones, for which Microsoft built its DOS and Windows operating systems, and became so dominant that "PC" became synonymous with "Windows computer", despite the fact that [[UsefulNotes/{{UNIX}} Linux and BSD]] are relatively popular on the platform. Notably, while current Apple computers are [=PCs=] in the latter sense, before 2006 they did actually have their own distinct architecture ([=PowerPC=]), and thus weren't [=PCs=].
** [[http://www.howtogeek.com/195224/macs-are-pcs-can-we-stop-pretending-they-arent/ As How-To Geek puts it]], "not all [=PCs=] are Macs, but all Macs are [=PCs=]".
* '''Pedantic''' originally came from ancient Greek, and was originally used to refer to someone (usually a slave) who led children to school. It then became known as an educator of children, making the words "teacher" and "pedant" synonymous for a short time. Eventually, it morphed into its current definition, someone obsessed with finding the smallest and most inconsequential details about various words and phrases, much like how a teacher would correct children in grammar school.
* '''Pedophilia''' is specifically a primary sexual attraction toward prepubescent children. According to the DSM-IV, it can be exclusive (the person is only attracted to children) or non-exclusive (the person is also attracted to adults or at least post-pubescent children), but it must have been acted on in some way - though not necessarily to the point of molesting a child - or it must cause the patient marked distress. Some people would prefer to define the term differently than this -- for example, in such a way that only the exclusive form counts. There are also a few who think the word should be "pedosexual", and they may have a point. (After all, do bibliophiles want to have sex with books?) But regardless of these details, on ''any'' reasonable definition:
** An artist who draws a child in a nonsexual context (for example) is not necessarily a pedophile, no matter what details are included.
** Someone who is primarily attracted to adults but has sex with prepubescent children is not a pedophile. Many child molesters don't have a particular attraction to children, but are simply exploiting a vulnerable warm body; analogous phenomena include prison rapes.
*** It is worth noting that in the typology of sexual offenders there are also people who are attracted to children due to their own heavy regression that renders them unable to relate to other adults. They are usually not categorized as pedophiles but as 'regressed child molesters'.
** Related to the above, there is no such thing as a "convicted pedophile". This isn't Orwell's [[Literature/NineteenEightyFour Oceania]]; one cannot be sent to prison simply for having certain thoughts. There is, by contrast, most certainly such a thing as a "convicted child molester". Even if such a person ''is'' a pedophile (not a given), they were not convicted merely for being one, but for some specific action they took as a result.
** A sexual preference for pubescent children (generally around 11-14 years of age) is not pedophilia, but hebephilia. "Prepubescent" is quite different from merely "under the legal age of consent".
*** One may see the term "ephebophilia" (sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19) used to make a similar distinction. Interestingly, while such a distinction is usually scoffed at in Internet discussion, it can have an enormous impact on the legal/psychological consideration of specific cases.
** The word "pederast" refers specifically to a man in a (usually sexually charged) relationship with an adolescent male. Though often incorrectly thought to be an uneducated corruption of "pedophile", "pederast" is actually the older of the two words. The difference is in the Greek root word used for "lover", ἐραστής[[labelnote:romanization]]erastēs[[/labelnote]] instead of φίλος[[labelnote:romanization]]philos[[/labelnote]]; the former refers to ἔρως[[labelnote:romanization]]erōs[[/labelnote]], or sexual desire, while the latter refers to φιλία[[labelnote:romanization]]philia[[/labelnote]], a more general kind of love. (The Ancient Greeks[[note]]at least according to Creator/CSLewis; this is debated by linguists[[/note]] had [[TheFourLoves four words for love]]: ἔρως, φιλία, στοργή[[labelnote:romanization]]storgē[[/labelnote]]--familial love, and ἀγάπη[[labelnote:romanization]]agapē[[/labelnote]]--divine love.)
* '''Peruse''' means to read something carefully and thoroughly, not to glance at something carelessly.
* The word '''perverted''' can refer to anything from child molestation to strange but harmless sexual fantasies, depending on whom you ask. However the definition of a pervert is someone who corrupts or misuses a person or thing; to say a person is perverted is closer to declaring them morally reprehensible than to saying they have a sexual disorder. The word originally referred to people opposing religious doctrine, and probably found its current (perverted?) usage in some churches' campaign against homosexuality.
** And speaking of perversions, the adjectival form of the word is '''perverse'''. "Perverted" would be a past-tense verb, ''e.g.'' "Jack underwent perversion yesterday. He was perverted. Jack is now perverse." The more broadly applicable "-ed" form may be due to that being more widely applicable to words that may lack a specific adjectival form. (Today, of course, this has become a mutation: generally speaking, "perverse" refers to non-sexual contexts--e.g. "perverse incentive"--while "perverted" refers to sexual ones.)
* Most '''plastic surgery''' is used to reconstruct parts of the body damaged in horrific accidents, such as severe burns. The beauty procedures which the phrase normally refers to should really be called '''cosmetic surgery''', which is just one type of plastic surgery. Moreover, some cosmetic techniques, such as Botox injections, do not actually qualify as plastic surgery under the formal definition. Finally, the "plastic" part of the phrase doesn't mean the substance plastic is used in the process, rather it is the somewhat dated adjective form of plastic meaning "malleable",as they are trying to "mold" the person's face or other parts into a new shape.
* '''Polarize''' means to cause something to acquire polarity; ''very'' polarizing is descriptive of a BrokenBase. It's not descriptive of a '''unanimous''' or '''unilateral''' opinion within a group of people. If something drives a wedge through group consensus and leaves them with opposing opinions, that's polarizing. If it leaves everyone with the same opinion, it's the opposite of polarizing.
* A '''Pony''' is not a young horse. That is a '''Foal'''. Instead, it's an adult horse that is bred to be small (shorter than 14½ hands or 58 inches).
* '''Proletarian''' originally meant "people whose only value to the state is [[WeHaveReserves producing offspring]]". In (Marxian) economics, it means "one who does not own the means of production but labors for one who does, while retaining political liberty". It does ''not'' mean "working class" or "blue-collar" -- most airline pilots are proletarians; many taxi drivers are not.
** [[http://www.lrb.co.uk/2012/01/11/slavoj-zizek/the-revolt-of-the-salaried-bourgeoisie Not even neo-Communist Slavoj Zizek knows the difference.]]
* '''Propaganda''' was once more-or-less synonymous with "advertising". Only in the last hundred or so years has it come to mean ''false'' advertising. It also suffers the "technically it's a plural" problem (see "data", above) - being a Latin phrase meaning "things to be spread".
* '''Psychotic''' is a word very often confused with "sociopathic"; in fact, one is a sub-class of the other. "Psychosis" is one of many mental disorders where a sufferer experiences a "loss of contact with reality". (The term is very broad, and can include mood disorders, depression, and various behavioral disorders. "Sociopathy" is a more specific ''type'' of psychosis where the sufferer is violent as a result.
* The idiom '''Pull oneself up by ones bootstraps''' is invariably used to mean something like "improve one's lot in life just by using one's own abilities." It originally meant something more like "do something blatantly impossible (or claim you did)", which makes more sense if you know what bootstraps are (for those who don't know, they are those little handles on some shoes that make them easier to put on, and you [[CaptainObvious can't just levitate off the ground by pulling on your own shoes]]). It may also be inspired by a story supposedly told by the (in)famous Baron Munchasen where he claimed to [[BlatantLies escape from a bog by pulling himself up by his ponytail]]). As such, people who use it unironically in it's modern meaning (usually as part of a HardWorkFallacy) are almost always CompletelyMissingThePoint.
* In physics, a '''quantum leap''' refers to a change that is not continuous (for example, a particle "leaps" from one energy level to another instantaneously). In common parlance, it is used to mean a groundbreaking development - perhaps under the misguided notion that the phrase refers to the "leap" forward that physics made when quantum mechanics was discovered. A more accurate phrase would be "paradigm shift".
* '''Republic''': a vague term supposed to mean a political system in which there is a large degree of participation and equality amongst the citizens. A republic is not necessarily a democracy (the ''demos'' not necessarily being coterminous with the citizenry, i.e. those with political rights), hence the distinction for "republican democracy", but a dictatorship is certainly not a republic whether it has hereditary rulers or not. Modern political philosophy -- such as the word of Phillip Pettit -- employs this older use. "'Republic' means not a monarchy'" is a case of people in the 1900s who kept using the word when it didn't mean quite what they thought it meant.
** A republic is essentially any political system that incorporates any caste-based electoral instrument, regardless on how widespread its use is. One good example is the (First) Republic of Poland called so since the 15th century, when the local councils of noblemen gained an important influence over the king (first a hereditary then an electoral monarch) and the royal court and were essentially ruling their respective lands.
** In the ancient Greek republics, often called "democracies", the voters were limited to male free citizens who had finished mandatory military service, thus excluding women, slaves, infirms (unfit for military service) and metics (free immigrants).
** The "satellite countries" aligned with the Soviet Union, or members of the Warsaw Pact, were technically republics (there were regular elections, and the countries were ruled by the same instruments of power as in any other republic) but these instruments were warped by ''e.g.'' fixing the local party-to-opposition ratio, so that the opposition could never overpower the USSR-backed party. This is why they are often called "façade republics" or "controlled republics".
** According to Creator/{{Cicero}}, one of the last consuls of UsefulNotes/TheRomanRepublic, a Republic was a combination of the three types of government identified by Creator/{{Aristotle}}: aristocracy (via the Senate), democracy (through the Legislative Assemblies and the veto-holding Tribunes), and monarchy (through the consuls).
** It certainly doesn't help matters that the original Latin term ''rēs publica'' is best literally translated as "the public thing," where ''rēs'' ("thing") can be [[BuffySpeak just as vague as it is in English]]. It also doesn't help matters that "dictator" was originally a legitimate office of the Roman republic in times of emergency with strict term limits. It wasn't until UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar made himself dictator "for perpetuity" that it gained traction as one way to say someone is PresidentForLife.
* A '''ring''' is round with a hollow center, but it does no good to point out boxing rings are square.[[note]]The name dates from an era when boxing matches were fought in a circle roughly drawn on the dirt; the modern boxing ring is sometimes called "the square circle" as an allusion to that.[[/note]]

* '''Sadism''' is deriving pleasure directly from [[{{Sadist}} inflicting suffering on others]]. It does not include deriving pleasure from actions in which suffering is inflicted but not the source of pleasure to the perpetrator. That's [[ComedicSociopathy schadenfreude]].
* '''Satellite''': A "satellite" is any object that orbits around a larger object, such as a planet. Most people think of satellites as the man-made pieces of technology that detect weather and spy on the Russians, but any natural chunk of space rock can be a satellite. Moons, of course, count too, as do planets which orbit a sun. Many people refer to their satellite dishes as simply "the satellite," leading some people to confuse the meaning of the word. This is why we now have the distinction between "natural satellite" and "artificial satellite".
** Incidentally, the word originally meant a (human) hanger-on, such as a courtier; Galileo applied it metaphorically to the things that scurry around Jupiter. The application of the word to the smaller members of the Warsaw Pact is perhaps truer to the original than the now-usual sense.
** The movie ''Film/AttackOfThe50FootWoman'' uses "satellite" to mean UFO. It was made around the time that ''Sputnik'' was launched, and the screenwriter apparently thought the word meant any object flying in space. This usage is common in 1950’s low-budget sci-fi movies.
* To culinary professionals, '''savory''' now means containing a particular taste sensation, also known as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami umami]], created by glutamic acid (popularly known as monosodium glutamate, or MSG). It can also mean any food which is particularly spiced or salted, as opposed to sweet. However, the original meaning was that still used by most people -- any particularly pleasing meal that makes the mouth water in anticipation. The modern meaning came about because glutamic acid creates a mouth-watering sensation after eating, similar to the anticipation.
* '''Sentient[=/=]Sapient''': To be sentient is to have the power of perception by the senses. To be sapient is to have or show "great wisdom or sound judgment," though it's often used to mean to simply possess human-like intelligence. These words are often used to mean things like simply ''being capable of'' intelligence or judgment or used to mean "self-aware", "conscious", or capable of subjective experience.
* '''Shoujo-ai''' (少女愛[[labelnote:hiragana]]しょうじょあい[[/labelnote]]) and '''Shounen-ai''' (少年愛[[labelnote:hiragana]]しょうねんあい[[/labelnote]]) are used in the West to mean same-sex romance between girls and boys, respectively, often less "intense" and sexual then actual yuri and yaoi. One had better not use those words in Japan, where they refer to [[PaedoHunt the love of children]]. Their English equivalents would be "girl love" and "boy love", which themselves shouldn't be confused with the GratuitousEnglish terms "girls' love" and "boys' love", which the Japanese use to refer to.... {{yuri}} and {{yaoi}}. Yes, this is quite the coincidence.
* '''Shrapnel''' refers to a very specific type of artillery shell: one that bursts open in flight to shower the target area with projectiles, invented by Major General Henry Shrapnel. A normal explosive produces fragments, not shrapnel.
* '''Sorcerer''' is a word which at its roots means '''caster of lots'''. It does not mean witchcraft or spellcasting. Furthermore, the practice of casting lots is ''praised'' in the ''ancient Hebrew'' Old Testament.
* To a mathematician, a '''sphere''' is just the outer surface of a three-dimensional, perfectly round shape. A ''solid'' three-dimensional, perfectly round shape is called a "ball". So billiard balls are balls, ping-pong balls are spheres, and most other sorts of ball, which are filled with air but have a fairly thick lining, are somewhere in between.
* '''Stoicism''' was originally a philosophy that held as a central tenet that extreme emotions should be overcome and prevented. It now means the repression of emotions, shorn of other parts of the philosophy. While someone who is stoical may be so because of an emotional disorder, it may just be a way of handling one particular occurrence.
** '''Cynicism''' for that matter, as often used in this website is actually less concerned with the contrast with idealism, and more to live life without falsehood (both in personal character, and by not chasing after things of false importance such as wealth, power, success, and fame). The classical Cynics were more like ascetics, living simply (much like the Stoics later would). The word means "dog-like" which to large portion fits, because dogs are known for doing certain things without any guilt or remorse.
--> ''There are four reasons why the Cynics are so named. First because of the indifference of their way of life, for they make a cult of indifference and, like dogs, eat and make love in public, go barefoot, and sleep in tubs and at crossroads. The second reason is that the dog is a shameless animal, and they make a cult of shamelessness, not as being beneath modesty, but as superior to it. The third reason is that the dog is a good guard, and they guard the tenets of their philosophy. The fourth reason is that the dog is a discriminating animal which can distinguish between its friends and enemies.''
* As defined by the man himself, '''SturgeonsLaw''' states that "Nothing is always absolutely so", that is to say that every rule has exceptions. The claim that ninety percent of everything is crud is more properly termed "Sturgeon's Revelation", but nobody ever cites it as that, not even Wiki/ThisVeryWiki.
** For that matter, most Internet adages, particularly FinaglesLaw (which is almost always confused for Murphy's Law) and PoesLaw, are often invoked with a subtly different meaning than originally intended.
* '''Subliminal''' simply means "below the threshold of sensation or consciousness", said of states supposed to exist but not strong enough to be recognized.
* '''Succulent''', because of its frequent use in the culinary arts, is often assumed by the layman to mean "tasty", when, in fact, it means "juicy". For example, milkweed is a very succulent plant, but eating it is not recommended. (Unless you're a monarch butterfly. And if you're reading this page, then you are not.[[note]]Unless you're [[SchroedingersButterfly just dreaming about reading the page]].[[/note]])
** There's even an entire botanical clade known as Succulent Plants. They are so named for their ability to retain water in arid conditions.
* '''Sycophant''' is an ancient Greek term for "informer" and "public accuser". They would expose the crimes of others to the authorities and be rewarded with a fee. By the 5th century BC, Creator/{{Aristophanes}}' comedies point to this having become a profession and practitioners caring little of the truth behind their accusations. Thus it gained the meaning (retained in Greek) of a false accuser, a slanderer. The English meanings of "flatterer", "bootlicker", are only loosely associated with the original meaning, by application to a hanger-on who curries favor with one person by denigrating others.
* '''TB''' does not stand for "tuberculosis", it stands for "tubercle bacillus", which is one name for the bacterium which causes tuberculosis.
* '''Thermos''' is a [[BrandNameTakeover brand name]] for what is properly called [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_flask a vacuum flask]]. It was invented about two decades before Thermos started marketing it, by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Dewar Sir James Dewar]], who unfortunately, refused to patent it. Most folks today use the brand name to describe ''any'' portable vacuum flask, or any similar device that keeps drinks cold.
* '''Transpire''' formerly meant "breathe", and still does in a scientific context. It has a legitimate second meaning, "to become known". It is now used to mean "happen", but some people react quite strongly to that usage.
* '''Tyrant''' in the original, ancient Greek meaning, was a single person who ruled over a city through usurpation (they took sovereignty by force, without right or permission). It was a value-neutral term, not a pejorative for an evil or oppressive ruler. Many ancient Greek tyrants were actually very well-liked (for instance Peisistratos of Athens). That said, the negative connotation of "tyrant" also comes from Ancient Greece: specifically Athens, where the term first showed up, when there was an "evil tyrant". It's been negative ever since. Strictly speaking, the meaning was "a ruler whose rule doesn't come from the state's laws" (''i.e.'' synonymous with "usurper"). As such, the name was often used to describe rulers appointed by foreign powers (like in the states conquered by the Persian Empire).

* '''Universe''': Technically speaking, the "universe" is the totality of everything that exists. If two "universes" are capable of interacting with one another, they're (strictly speaking) part of the ''same'' universe. This one is ''extremely'' pedantic, particularly if you have a [[TheMultiverse multiverse]] (itself not quite an oxymoron; that would be "multi-universe"). It turns out that [='=]'''U'''niverse' is for the entirety of everything, and [='=]'''u'''niverse' is for the big balls of space and time.
** This is a case of the word actually changing, at least within the realm of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brane_cosmology modern cosmology]], where the "universe" is our observable reality, and yet other universes with their own branes, time-space continua and physical laws are predicted to also exist. The conglomeration of ''absolutely everything'' is called, simply, '''The Bulk'''. But given that our own universe is [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale incomprehensibly]] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXrXTx94aFg huge]], the need to ponder what is beyond it is rare.
** Omniverse is sometimes used to refer to "Universe".
*** Whereas within modern metaphysics, "world" is used for the totality of all existing things, and "universe" for universe as in cosmology. This becomes confusing for the uninitiated when talk of possible worlds -- ways the totality of stuff might, logically, have been -- is combined with talk of multiverse theory within physics as entirely reasonable statements like "Even if our universe is not actually part of a multiverse, there is a possible world close to this one in logical space in which our universe does exist as part of a multiverse" are a bit puzzling, especially for those who use "the world" and "Earth" interchangeably.
** In quantum physics, a "multiverse" is viewed as a multitude of "universes", of which we are one possibility. To us it's the only one. They're all real, but we can't ever communicate with might-have-beens or especially "have-beens" or "will-bes." So to a layman it's all the same. The theoretical or philosophical implications of quantum physics has never stopped people from applying it, though, as you can observe on the macroscopic level right now by reading this on a computer.
** The man who coined the word "multiverse", William James, said that if there was something beyond the universe, it wasn't the universe; it was one of a number of multiverses that were aspects of a greater universe; exactly the opposite of how the words are used now.
** This is a very old progression: by the very act of coming up with a term for "everything", you raise the question of whether there could be anything else. This also happened to φύσις[[labelnote:romanization]]phusis[[/labelnote]] (in Greek) and ''nātūra'' (in Latin), which, having been used to mean "everything" came to mean a more limited set of things. (Creator/CSLewis traces the process nicely in ''Studies in Words''.)
** If a universe we can't observe can be hypothesized, more than one could also be hypothesized. SpeculativeFiction illustrates alternatives to the observable universe, so "multiverse" and the plural "universes" would be appropriately used in this context.
** "Cosmos" is now sometimes used to mean "everything that is". Carl Sagan introduced his TV show ''{{Series/Cosmos}}'' with the words "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be." Some people have (mis-) interpreted this as an assertion that there is no God (since "all that is" is the universe). In fact, while Sagan was an atheist (or at least an agnostic), here he was just ''defining'' the term. By this definition, if there is a God or a Heaven (or, for that matter, alternate universes or timelines), then they are included in the single "Cosmos".

* '''Viking''' is not a demonym[[note]]a word that denotes an ethnic group[[/note]] but a name of profession. People most commonly described as such were in fact Norse or Norsemen (Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians). The word ''víking'' (it's the feminine form, by the way) means "journey" or "raid", so a ''víkingr'' (the masculine form) was a person who was taking part in mercantile voyages or raids. Prior to the ninth century it usually meant "seaman" or "merchant", but later it gravitated towards the rough part of the trade, meaning "pirate" or "raider". In other words, Norse craftsmen, workers or skalds were not vikings, even if they were capable warriors themselves.
* '''Vulgar''' technically means "common" or "ordinary". It came to mean rude or obscene because [[LowerClassLout "common" people are often stereotyped as having bad manners]].
** You can still see this in the mathematical term "vulgar fraction" - a fraction less than one, in which the top number is smaller than the bottom number, such as 1/2 - it's "ordinary because numbers smaller than one is what people mean when they say "fraction" informally (eg, when you say something costs "a fraction of the regular price", it means a lot less than the regular price). By contrast, a fraction greater than one, where the top is bigger than the bottom, is an "improper fraction", ie not the sort of number people would infer from just "fraction". This, despite that "vulgar" and "improper" have similar meanings when used outside the context of fractions.

* Originally, '''Waifu''' (and its SpearCounterpart term '''Husbando''') referred to a fictional character that a person loved obsessively, to the point [[PerverseSexualLust they would marry the character if given the chance]]. But because it's possible for any character to inspire that level of obsession, it eventually meant "character one loved the most", then eventually "favorite character" or plain "cute girl/boy", which coincided with the point where phrases like "seasonal waifu" (i.e. favorite character ''that season'') started being used and unintentionally brought up imagery of philandering or polyamory. The original definition would eventually be a subset term, such as specifying that a person has "only one waifu".

* '''Werewolf''' is a term that specifically applies to male members of humanity that turn into wolves, as the "were" part actually derives from the word "werman", an archaic word for a male human which was later shortened to "man" (and that's a whole other case). The correct term for a female that turns into a wolf is a '''wyfwolf''', from the term "wyfman", which was later shortened to "woman".
** On a related note: '''Lycanthrope''' specifically means werewolf (it comes from Ancient Greek and literally means "wolf person"). Some works erroneously use it to mean any were-creature. A better term to use would be ''werebeast'' or '''therianthrope''' (literally "beast person") if "werebeast" is too boring for you.
* '''Whence''', '''thence''', and '''hence''', mean, respectively, "from where", "from there", and "from here". Thus, using any of those words with the word "from" is redundant. They were ''sometimes'' used with "from", but mostly for emphasis, ''e.g.'' "''Where'' are you ''from''?" or "''There'' is where he's ''from''."
** However, the phrase "from whence" appears in the King James Bible.
*** This phenomenon, which also occurs in the Book of Common Prayer in forms such as the double plurals "seraphims" and "cherubims", is probably because of the translators' fears that the "correct" language would not be understood by the illiterate masses, and so various slightly odd turns of phrase emerge.
*** In case you were wondering, the potential singular and plural forms are as follows: one seraph/cherub; two seraphs/seraphim/seraphin/cherubs/cherubim/cherubin. "Seraphims" and "cherubims" are right out.
* The word '''willy-nilly''', universally understood today to mean "haphazardly" or "arbitrarily", originated as a contraction for "will ye or [[http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nill nill]] ye", roughly meaning "whether you like it or not".

* '''{{Yaoi}}''' is frequently used for all manga with gay male content. This isn't correct. '''{{Bara|Genre}}''' is the proper term for most manga written and read by gay men, though the most widespread term in Japan is '''Gei-comi'''. Yaoi is mostly written and read by women (although there are male yaoi writers, and female bara writers). Bara tends to have more ManlyGay characters, in contrast to the {{bishounen}} yaoi characters. Unlike Yaoi, Bara is usually pornographic, and doesn't have the Seme/Uke dynamic in Yaoi.
** The word itself once was an acronym meaning "No Climax, No Resolution, No Meaning", referring to the way these stories were written rather than just the content. Over the years it slowly morphed into a catch-all for any male/male works regardless of if they had any of the three. Nowadays, fans try to avert misusing the phrase by simply referring to said works as BL (short for "Boys Love", another popular term). In the West, Yaoi had become so prominent a word in media that talked about it that ''BL'' was the synonym rather than the other way around.
* '''Zombie''': This is a case where the continued wrong use of a word in popular culture has redefined the term. However, using the term "zombie" to describe any old reanimated corpse is technically wrong. Those which we call "zombies" today were usually called "vampires" in past centuries [[OurVampiresAreDifferent (before our image of the vampire took on its "bloodsucking" connotation)]]. Zombies are supposed to be bodies specifically animated and directed by a supernatural force (as in Voodoo, [[HollywoodVoodoo Hollywood]] or otherwise). Zombies don't even have to be ''dead'' or ''undead'', as drugged Haitian slaves might tell you. Similarly, '''ghouls''' are typically viewed as type of Undead, but in Arabic myth they are actually jinn believed to have been sired by [[{{Satan}} Iblis]], that dwelt in graveyards and other uninhabited places. '''Revenants'''[[note]]from the Latin ''reveniō, -īre'' = "come back"[[/note]] actually were undead, but they weren't typically held to be specifically brought back, they come back of their own accord, either for some [[UnfinishedBusiness specific purpose]] (such as to take revenge on their killer) or just to harass their families.
* [[http://mdfs.net/Info/Comp/Mouse/ccpm.gif Mouse, pointer, cursor]]. Modern operating systems themselves refer to the "pointer" as a "cursor," however, so the distinction seems to have eroded to a nub.
[[/folder]]
[[/index]]


This isn't a general style guide; these are specifically words that have commonly contested usages. Homophones, humorous misspellings and bizarre malapropisms belong in TheBigListOfBooboosAndBlunders or RougeAnglesOfSatin. For errors of punctuation rather than usage, see {{Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma}}. Here are the commonly misused words, from most to least JustForFun/{{egregious}}:

to:

This isn't a general style guide; these are specifically words that have commonly contested usages. Homophones, humorous misspellings and bizarre malapropisms belong in TheBigListOfBooboosAndBlunders or RougeAnglesOfSatin. For errors of punctuation rather than usage, see {{Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma}}. When these errors are pointed out by characters in a work, see YouKeepUsingThatWord.

Here are the commonly misused words, from most to least JustForFun/{{egregious}}:

Added DiffLines:

->''"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."''
-->-- '''Inigo Montoya''', ''Film/ThePrincessBride'', on Vizzini's use of the word "inconceivable".


Language evolves. Over time, as people speak a language, some of its words take on new meanings, and the old meanings may fall into disuse. Sometimes the new usages become mainstream; when was the last time you heard someone (who wasn't trying to be funny -- and likely failing) use "[[HaveAGayOldTime gay]]" to mean anything other than "homosexual" or as a disparaging term? Sometimes, things are more... contentious.

There are certain words that writers, and indeed people in general, are frequently accused of misusing, although given the continual evolution of any spoken language, exactly what constitutes a "misuse" is [[{{Flamebait}} hotly contested]]. The most common examples can be sorted into categories of varying pedantry. The more pedantic ones may rely on obscure usages or represent a vain attempt by [[GrammarNazi linguistic purists]] to turn back the clock on the evolution of language (sometimes to a [[NostalgiaFilter supposed past state that never actually existed]]), often accompanied by the belief that [[TheyChangedItNowItSucks linguistic evolution is always "degradation."]]

The usage may simply be so widespread that, while the "correct" usage is still valuable in some contexts, one can generally get away with the "incorrect" colloquial usage. The less pedantic ones, though, will probably elicit eye rolls at least from most people with an interest in language or a university education. Then there are some words that are just so specific that [[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant nobody actually bothers to look up what they really mean]]. This happens most often to scientific or medical terms.

As an interesting aside, in his academic book ''Studies In Words,'' Creator/CSLewis points out that this kind of meaning shift is very valuable to lexicographers who are trying to pinpoint a word's historical usage: A GrammarNazi might say, for instance, "Immorality doesn't mean the same as lechery" because the word does often get (mis)used that way; they wouldn't say "Coalbox doesn't mean the same as hippopotamus" because nobody has ever confused those words. In other words, someone protesting that a word "does not mean X" is evidence that somebody else ''has'' been using it to mean X, which is what lexicographers look for.

This isn't a general style guide; these are specifically words that have commonly contested usages. Homophones, humorous misspellings and bizarre malapropisms belong in TheBigListOfBooboosAndBlunders or RougeAnglesOfSatin. For errors of punctuation rather than usage, see {{Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma}}. Here are the commonly misused words, from most to least JustForFun/{{egregious}}:

'''Many of the "common" usages here have become accepted definitions of the words listed. Do not treat a definition as incorrect simply because it is listed here.'''
----
[[foldercontrol]]
[[folder: Least Pedantic]]
* '''Venomous''' and '''poisonous''' are not interchangeable, which is a common mistake in usage. ''Venomous'' means the subject has the ability to actively transmit poison. ''Poisonous'' means the subject transmits poison passively (ie. is eaten). Therefore, a poisonous frog means that it will poison those eating it, while a venomous snake means it will poison its victims by biting them and injecting toxins. As the mnemonic saying goes, "If it bites you and you die, it's venomous. If you bite it and you die, it's poisonous." [[note]]Similar issues happen in other languages -- for instance, in Spanish, ''venenoso'' (venomous) is very often used where ''ponzoñoso'' (poisonous) should be (although the opposite almost never happens), to the extent many assume both words are now synonyms, and that ''ponzoñoso'' is just an old word that is not used anymore.[[/note]] This means that, technically, if you are bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion, the correct past tense is "I have been envenomed." This may be because most animal venoms are ''not'' harmful if swallowed...not that we'd recommend drinking it, since it can still enter the bloodstream through any cuts in the mouth.
* There is a famous (for a given value of "famous") poem by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, inventor of the "modern technique" of handgun combat:[softreturn]''A clip is not a magazine[softreturn]A mag is not a clip[softreturn]Neither is a grip a stock[softreturn]And "stock" does not mean "grip".[softreturn][softreturn]I do not mean to nitpick[softreturn]But improvement might be seen[softreturn]If we could bring ourselves to say[softreturn]Exactly what we mean.''
** A '''clip''' and a '''magazine''' are often used interchangeably, but military terminology is that a clip feeds a magazine (or the cylinder of a revolver) quickly; a magazine feeds into the weapon itself. A removable magazine is often referred to as a clip even by military sources, however.
*** This was highlighted early in 2014 when a California state senator delivered a press conference tirade where he kept using "30 calibre clip" and "30 magazine clip" to characterize the supposed firing speed of a gun.
** A '''stock''' is the part of a rifle, shotgun, or occasionally SMG or pistol that is braced against the shoulder; a '''grip''' is the part that is actually, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin gripped]]—it's specifically the part of the gun that is held by the hand that pulls the trigger, and includes the trigger itself (though sometimes also used as a shortened form of "foregrip", the part of a long gun that is held by the off-hand to steady the weapon). The stock and grip are together part of the '''receiver''', the framework that holds the whole thing together (often called a '''frame''' on handguns).
*** To make things more confusing, in most classic rifles (i.e. non-automatic), a ''stock'' refers to the large wooden (or plastic) part all the metal parts (barrel, bolt and trigger assembly) are connected to. In this case, a part of stock behind the grip that is put against shooter's shoulder would be a 'butt'.
** A '''bullet''' is the metal slug fired from a gun. A '''cartridge''' or '''round''' is the unfired ammunition. A '''casing''' is the spent part of the cartridge ejected otherwise. Referring to unfired cartridges as bullets is a classic error. Similarly, '''shot''' is what's fired from a ''shotgun''. '''Shell''' can be both the unfired ammo and the spent casing.
*** To be extra confusing, old style cannon fired '''shot''' (solid projectiles) and '''shells''' (explosive projectiles). Explosive projectiles are still called shells.
** A '''barrel''' is the tube a bullet travels down when fired; before firing, the bullet sits (contained in a cartridge, see above) in a '''chamber'''. Revolvers have multiple chambers which rotate in a '''cylinder'''; other guns load their chambers (or "chamber rounds") from their magazines.
* For small arms, '''caliber''' means the width of the barrel at the narrowest point. "High caliber" is not, in fact, a way of saying "high power". E.g. A 7.62x39mm round fired from an AKM will not impart as much energy to a target as a 7.62x54mm round fired from a SVD Dragunov, nor will the 9x19mm Parabellum round impart as much energy as the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round.
** Another way to think of it is that a "high caliber bullet" will ''generally'' be fired from a bigger gun. However, caliber has nothing to do with strength ''by itself'' - if anything, the length of the cartridge (i.e. how much space there is in the casing for gunpowder behind the bullet) has more to do with the energy the bullet imparts on a target than the diameter of the bullet. If you're trying to say that a high caliber hand gun is more powerful than a low caliber rifle, chances are that you're ''wrong''. Unless you want to get into the specifics of grain count, rifling twist, bullet velocity and weight, you're better off assuming that handguns are less powerful than rifles.
*** To put it another way, "caliber" is absolutely not the same thing as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stopping_power#Energy_transfer "stopping power"]]. A small-caliber bullet fired from a high-powered rifle is a lot more likely to kill you than a large-caliber bullet fired at a much slower speed -- the latter bulldozes its way through the entire region via [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrostatic_shock hydrostatic shock]]; the former punctures its way through a narrow path. Kinetic energy is a function of the mass times the ''square'' of the speed.
** On the same subject, '''bore''' and '''caliber''' are not necessarily interchangeable. Traditionally for rifled weaponry, especially rifled artillery, "bore" denotes the number of turns in the number of calibers (i.e. how many times the width of the projectile down the barrel the projectile must travel to have one complete turn imparted on it by the rifling). So a rifled late Victorian artillery piece with one turn per 38 calibers is a 38 bore, but a smoothbore early Victorian cannon is a zero bore. To confuse matters further, in the UK the word "bore" is also used to mean the same as "gauge" in regards to shotguns: a measure of barrel diameter based upon the weight of a solid lead ball that will fit perfectly into the barrel, expressed as the denominator of a vulgar fraction of a pound if the numerator is one. Thus if the largest lead ball you can fit into the shotgun barrel weighs one twelfth of a pound, you have a 12-bore (or, in the US, 12-gauge) shotgun.
** To confuse matters, there are two separate meanings of the phrase "high-caliber," one of which means larger bullets, and the older of which means "fits the mold ideally." Therefore in other usage, higher caliber always means "better," but in guns it's just a straight technical term with no better/worse meaning.
** To confuse the situation even further, the term caliber is also used to indicate barrel length of artillery pieces, especially naval artillery. So when one refers to a 5"/ 38 caliber gun, one is referring to a gun with a barrel that is one caliber, or 5", internal diameter, and 38 calibers, or 190" long.
* '''Point-blank''' does not mean "at very close range". Point-blank refers to the maximum distance between a firearm and its target before one's aim needs to be adjusted for elevation. Of course, for field artillery or naval guns designed to launch shells in long parabolic arcs, that ''is'' quite a close range. For handguns or rifles, not so much.
* The word '''factoid''' is often used as if it meant "little fact" or "trivia," as in "here's a little factoid for you". It actually means "[[LittleKnownFacts something resembling a fact but with no evidence to support it]]"[[note]]"Factoids ... that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority." [N. Mailer, "Marilyn," 1973][[/note]], much like ''android'' is 'something that resembles a man'. Amusingly, this can often make the word more appropriate than the speaker's intention.
* '''[[RoyalBlood Royalty]]''' is not the same as '''[[BlueBlood nobility]]''' or '''gentry'''. Royalty is basically the nearest family of a ruler, while nobles are descendants of knights and landowners. There could be royal dukes and noble dukes. Gentry is somewhere between a subclass of nobility and a category of its own, as people in that class usually own land and are descended from well-established and well-connected families, but don't have hereditary titles or offices.
* '''Ironic''' doesn't (simply) mean "funny", "unexpected", "coincidental" or "cruel." See {{Irony}} for more on the subject, and IsntItIronic for more on the misuse.
** And on a similar note, '''cynicism''' isn't "sarcastic but more". Sarcasm is mocking, cynicism is jaded negativity.
*** And before '''cynicism''' got its current meaning, it was a Greek philosophy which taught that happiness is independence. From as much as possible - pleasures, law, other people...
* '''Impeach''' does not mean to remove someone from office. Impeachment is the process by which an individual is put on trial for unlawful activity. So Congress did not "''try'' to impeach" Bill Clinton, they did. He was not removed from office, though.
** In the legal context, it means to attack someone's credibility. At trial, both lawyers are trying to impeach the other's witnesses and it has nothing to do with elected office.
* '''Irregardless'''. While taken literally it could mean "not regardless", its usage is near-invariably as an erroneous synonym of "regardless." Linguists often refer to this fairly common phenomenon as "overnegation". In a case of ''actual'' irony, this is almost the exclusive purview of [[DelusionsOfEloquence people trying to sound more literate than they are, and achieving the exact opposite]]. In a case of ''further'' irony, you're vastly more likely to encounter this word in a style guide or as part of a joke than you are to ever hear anyone using it naïvely; we're calling out people who "don't know the language" by accusing them of using what was originally a non-word, even in a descriptivist sense. It is so common that the SAT has at least one question per writing section testing it. It is usually under the hardest questions, too. The Brothers Chaps lampooned this in their ''VideoGame/PeasantsQuest'' flash game by using the word "irredisregardless". The funny thing is, despite the word having no precedent, it's a triple negative, so it's technically correct.
* A '''Scientific Theory''' is [[GravityIsOnlyATheory not a guess, hypothesis, or conjecture.]] It's an established framework of one or more hypotheses with a significant body of evidence backing it. In other words, it's been "proven" to the extent it can be. If a model makes accurate predictions and is consistent with testing and/or observation it can eventually be called a theory, while the word hypothesis is reserved for an idea that you think might work but you haven't had the chance to rigorously test yet. As for why the word theory is used rather than, say, fact or law, this is simply a result of the general understanding that any theory may be incomplete or inaccurate. \\
\\
This doesn't mean we have any doubts about the validity of the theory itself, but that we may not know everything about it. Gravity is a good example, gravity is "only a theory". That is, our model of how gravity works may not be entirely correct; in fact we know it isn't, since our current theory does not incorporate quantum effects. That doesn't stop gravity from being real. Similarly evolution simply means change, and in the context of biology simply means change from one generation to the next in terms of genetic makeup. Our current theory of how species evolve through natural selection is a theory because the model may not be perfect, but the fact that organisms change from generation to generation is an observable fact. \\
\\
Incidentally, even in non-scientific usage the word '''theory''' did not always mean guess. If you look at how, say, Literature/SherlockHolmes would use the word theory, it would be a model explaining a crime, which is based on evidence, is testable, and has explanatory powers.
** It should be noted that this word is now subject to a misconception of the opposite sign, as a result of an overzealous response to the above mistake. The word "theory" does not imply that an idea is unproven, but neither does it imply that it is proven: it really doesn't say anything about the degree of confidence in it. For example, the theory of phlogiston is a thoroughly disproven scientific theory on combustion. It's still a theory, i.e. a system of ideas that aims to explain scientific phenomena on the basis of general principle - it's just that nobody believes in it any more.
** The core "essence" of a proper theory (and by extension hypothesis) is it has the property of ''falsifiability.'' This merely means that it's possible to construct a repeatable experiment to test ''if'' it's wrong. The actual outcome (proven correct or proven wrong) is irrelevant.
** As a further, a scientific '''law''' doesn't mean it's "more proven" than a theory. A law is (loosely) is something derived from a theory to cover a certain point. If your theory were "[[Series/{{Torchwood}} Jack Harkness]] is the sexiest creature in existence." then a one law might be "If you are in Jack Harkness' presence for more than 31.2 seconds, you ''will'' snog him." In more scientific the classic e=mc^2 is a law derived from the Theory of Relativity.
* The word '''Decimate''' is very frequently used a synonym of words like destroy, annihilate, or obliterate. Its actual definition is literally to destroy one tenth of something. [[note]]And being more pedantic, its a form of punishment used on Roman legions where legionaries draw straws and 1/10th are killed[[/note]]. The definition has loosened to mean, "kill a large percentage of" but it's still wrong to use it to mean "almost destroyed" or "completely destroyed" like some people do.
* The words '''racism''', '''prejudice''' and '''stereotype''' are often confused. Racism is defined as any policy or belief based in whole or in part on the pseudo-scientific theory that all humanity consists of biologically distinct races and that every member of each race has the distinct physical and/or behavioral characteristics of that race[[note]] Genetically, there are either tens of thousands of races or none, depending on whether you want to go for meaningful biological differences (none) or extremely minor ones (tens of thousands). The main problem with "racial" theory is that races aren't distinct, and not all the members of the supposed "races" have the characteristics they're supposed to have. [[/note]]. Prejudice means the belief that "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prejudice a group of people [are] characterized by their race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion]]." Stereotypes, on the other hand, are "generalizations of existing characteristics that reduce complexity" (also copied from Wiki/TheOtherWiki). So, the belief of the USA's 'Southern' slave-owners that anyone who was not an Anglo-Saxon European was by default of an inferior race was racism, the belief of Anglo-Saxon settlers that the USA's Amerindian peoples were savages was prejudice, and the belief that all Canadians constantly say "eh" is a stereotype. Stereotype is a ''neutral term''; often when people use the term in a pejorative manner, it is to attack a ''lazy'' stereotype -- that is, a blanket statement that assumes homogeny among an entire spectrum of demographic.
** Similarly, people often use '''discrimination''' to mean negative treatment based on prejudice. In fact, discrimination simply means ''any'' differential treatment, regardless of what such differentiation is based on or whether such treatment is positive or negative. Which is why we have an article for PositiveDiscrimination. Discrimination can and is perfectly rational and justifiable in many situations: for instance, the practice of hiring the more qualified candidate for a job is a form of discrimination. Another example would be to discriminate between foods one likes and doesn't like (i.e. ordering the strawberry shortcake over the apple pie because you do not like cinnamon)--this last sort of "discrimination" is why "discriminating" is a compliment in dealing with matters of taste (e.g. the ''discriminating'' wine-drinker can tell the ''Grand Cru'' Bordeaux from the [[ATankardOfMooseUrine plonk]], and is considered to have Good Taste because he "discriminates" in favour of the former over the latter). You will often see this used correctly in military contexts. If armed forces are said to be indiscriminate, they have crossed the MoralEventHorizon.
** Finns have become really, really bad at misusing "racism" ("rasismi") in the past ten years or so. People talk about "age racism" or "fat racism" or god forbid, even "sex racism" because they think "racism" just means "discrimination". Part of this stems from the English loanword "rasismi" replacing the old, 100% Finnish word "rotusyrjintä" (literally "race discrimination"). Nobody in their right mind would use a term like "ikärotusyrjintä" ("age race discrimination"), but "ikärasismi", "age racism" is ridiculously popular.
** '''Bigotry''' is often generalized into discrimination of any kind. In actuality, [[http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bigotry bigotry]] is merely intolerance of beliefs other than one's own. Other factors, such as race, are not relevant to the designation.
* There appears to be a confusion about the words '''sexism''' and '''misogyny'''. Sexism is discrimination and stereotyping based on sex, and encompasses all forms of discrimination based on sex (indeed, even men who believe that women are inherently better than men, for example). '''Misogyny''' and '''misandry''' are hatred of women and men respectively. Some dictionaries have expanded this to include deep-seated prejudice against women or men respectively (so a womanizer who sees women only as sex objects would be a misogynist, despite his claims to love women).
* '''UsefulNotes/{{Feminism}}''' often gets misused for '''misandry'''. Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men and nothing more. Unfortunately, due to a VocalMinority of feminists who tend to skew issues into an "us vs them" rhetoric, their advocacy for equality is often conflated with outright hatred for men.
* There is some confusion as to what a '''Justification''' is in the wiki's jargon, due to the everyday use of the term in Administrivia/JustifyingEdit. A JustifiedTrope ''does not'' require a Administrivia/JustifyingEdit. A trope is justified when the in-universe explanation for its use makes sense in context. A Administrivia/JustifyingEdit is just a fan of a work complaining that another editor [[FelonyMisdemeanor dared]] list that work under [[Administrivia/TropesAreTools a particular trope page]].
* '''Polygamy''' is "marriage of one person to more than one spouse" (to distinguish it from "group marriage"). It is not just a synonym for "polygyny", "marriage of a man to more than one wife". Most arguments brought up in response to "What's wrong with polygamy?" (e.g., "It oppresses women") are just irrelevant to "polyandry", "marriage of a woman to more than one husband". (And not just because "polyandrists do not exist", which is also factually incorrect.)
* A '''Battleship''' is a combat vessel that relies primarily on large caliber guns (11 inches or bigger) to do damage and is armored to withstand guns of equal power, if not greater power. It is not any ship meant to do battle, that would be a '''Warship'''. Nobody builds or uses battleships anymore[[note]]The last used were the American ''Iowa'' class[[/note]] (though several are preserved as museums) because missiles and aircraft carriers have rendered their construction uneconomical.
* While we're at it, a '''Cruise Ship''' and a '''Cruiser''' are very different types of ships. A cruiser is a medium-sized, long-range military vessel while a cruise ship is a passenger ship designed for pleasure cruises. Scifi writers screw this one up all the time [[SpaceIsAnOcean when naming spaceships,]] to the point that it's not unheard-of for one setting to use the terms both correctly and incorrectly.
* You can only ''truly'' '''plead the Fifth''' in a particularly bad court of HollywoodLaw. The correct phrase is to "TAKE the Fifth" (for those non-Americans unaffected by the EaglelandOsmosis: "The Fifth" is the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, one clause of which protects against self-incrimination; better known as [[ReadingYourRights "you have the right to remain silent"]]). Pleading in a criminal prosecution[[note]]In a civil action, pleading is "the pleadings": the plaintiff's complaint (i.e. "the defendant did this, and this, and this, and that's such-and-such tort/breach of contract/other issue) and the defendant's answer to that complaint (which usually consists of responding to the complaint point-by-point by saying "Admitted" or "Denied" but can also be quite complicated--the least complicated being the common "This is a conclusion of law requiring no response, but to the extent it alleges any fact it is denied.").[[/note]] requires a '''plea''', most often "not guilty" or "guilty". (There's also ''nolo contendere'', "no contest": "I didn't do it, but I will not fight the charges," usually done to avoid civil liability on the grounds of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_judicata res judicata/collateral estoppel]]--particularly when the criminal penalty is relatively light but the damages in a subsequent civil suit will be ''massive'' if the case goes against you.)
** While 'The Fifth' is not a plea, most courts will understand the statement "I plead the fifth" as a suspect explicitly invoking their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. According to the Supreme Court, while a suspect must explicitly invoke the right, "No ritualistic formula is necessary in order to invoke the privilege" ([[https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/349/155/ Quinn v. United States, 349 U. S. 155, 164 (1955)]]).
* Similarly (and technically), '''pleading insanity''' is shorthand used outside of court for pleading "not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect".
** Also worth noting is that one cannot be '''diagnosed''' as insane, because insanity is a legal concept, not a medical one. Even if a medical professional determines a person is mentally ill, a court must decide if that mental illness is legally relevant. In general, while having a mental illness or severe cognitive difficulty is an element of the court's decision, at the end of the day you are '''adjudicated''' insane, not diagnosed as such.[[note]]In the English-speaking countries, there are four standards for determining whether someone is legally insane. The oldest, called the ''M'Naghten'' rule after a case where the defendant believed the person he was shooting was Sir UsefulNotes/RobertPeel, articulates the rule that you (1) had a "mental disease or defect" such that (2) you either didn't understand what it was you were doing or didn't know that it was wrong. Some US states thought this too harsh, and changed the rule to be that (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect and (2) it created an "irresistible impulse" to perform the criminal act. In TheSixties, some US states ''still'' thought this was too harsh, so they said that if (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect and (2) that mental disease or defect "caused" you to commit the crime, you were insane. Finally, the authors of the Model Penal Code, an American attempt (mostly failed) at unifying the 50 states' criminal laws, thought that both the ''M'Naghten'' rule and the "irresistable impulse" rule made good points, sort of combined the two, stating that if (1) you had some kind of mental disease or defect such that (2) you could not (a) understand what you were doing OR (b) that it was wrong OR (c) you could not "conform [your] conduct to the law", the defense would be applicable.[[/note]] Similarly, on the civil side, you can also be adjudicated legally incompetent to do any number of things (to sign a contract, to commit a tort, to make a will, to serve as trustee of a trust); although the standard for that is a lot lower--"incompetence" can include moderate senility, for example--it is possible to have some kind of mental illness or cognitive difficulty and still be deemed legally competent to handle one's own affairs.
** Similarly, '''insanity''' means someone being mentally ill or being extremely illogical/foolish. Most people use the pop culture version taken from ''VideoGame/FarCry3'' where a character states that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting things to change". While someone who is mentally ill can exhibit such a behavior, it is not what insanity is all about.
* The phrase "'''compare and contrast'''" is redundant. '''Contrasting''' involves comparing—contrasting is comparing only the differences, while '''comparing''' in the broader sense may also note similarities. This error in rampant in this very wiki.
* '''Exponentially''' means "increasing at a rate which is also increasing", not merely "increasing" and certainly not "a lot". Mathematically speaking, "exponentially more" refers only to the difference between the rates of increase of two functions, and has a much more specific meaning than "this is growing faster than that"[[note]]The mathematical meaning of "exponentially more/less" is about the asymptotic complexity of a function equal to the difference between two functions. (More specifically, a function f(x) is said to be "exponentially greater" than another function g(x) if their difference (f(x) - g(x)) is a function that has the same asymptotic complexity as some function h(x) that grows exponentially with x. Another, probably more common definition is that their ratio (f(x)/g(x)) grows faster than any power of x. If one starts to be pedantic, the latter is called super-polynomial, and most people insist on using ratios (2^x doesn't really grow faster than 2* 2^x)) This means that it's incorrect to say that something is "exponentially more/less" than something else when the two things being compared are just constant quantities, rather than quantities that increase as functions of some variable (such as time).[[/note]] Values that stay the same or increase at steady rate are not, by definition, "exponentially" ''anything''. Most people who say this mean "orders of magnitude greater". An "order of magnitude" is (usually) ten times[[note]]Mathematically speaking, an order of magnitude is a factor of whatever the base value is. Saying that it is "usually ten times" reflects the generic standard that most mathematics is done in base ten. An order of magnitude in binary, for example, would be a factor of 2, while an order of magnitude in hexadecimal would be a factor of 16, ''et cetera''.[[/note]], so more than one would be 100 times, 1000 times, or more. That said, a quantity that is ten times larger than its starting value after one year, 100 times larger after two years, and 1000 times larger after three, can be said to be growing "exponentially" as the relation between value N and time t is one of N=10^t or N≈44.7e^t.
* A '''quantum''' is a discrete unit of something. Therefore, when Film/JamesBond finds his Film/QuantumOfSolace, he doesn't feel that much better[[note]]Which was how it was meant in [[Literature/ForYourEyesOnly the original story]]. The idea was that when the last quantum of solace is removed from a relationship a man might do anything[[/note]]. A quantum ''leap'' is a change directly from one state to another, without any defined intermediate states happening along the way. The distance leaped over does not need to be the smallest possible. [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1554.html Some pedants have not quite grasped this]].
** To better describe, think of the word "quantity". When you have a quantity of something, i.e. a specific number of units of it, those units are ''quanta''. In physics, a quantum specifically means "the minimum amount of a physical entity involved in a physical interaction" (from Wiki/TheOtherWiki).
* '''Inflammable''' is not an antonym to '''flammable'''; it's a synonym. The antonym is '''non-flammable'''. (Granted, this is played for comedy more often than it's used seriously...)
** The confusion here is mostly due to the fact that inflammable (derived from "inflame") doesn't come from the typical [in-] negation, it comes from [en-], to give or receive. "Flammable" is actually the newer word, created because people knew that this exact mistake would be made. It makes sense once you consider that the archaic ''enflame'' is similar to enrage and enjoy.
** [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons "Inflammable means flammable? What a country!"]]
** [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 "Flammable! Or inflammable, forget which. Doesn't matter!"]]
** '''Creator/GeorgeCarlin''': "Flammable... inflammable... non-inflammable. Why are there three of them? Either it flams or it doesn't!"
** [[VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing "It tries to set your face on fire, but you're inflammable."]] Wait, that means flammable. You're [[BuffySpeak "un-light-on-fire-able."]]
*** Of course, if someone ''did'' successfully light your face on fire, you'd suffer '''inflammation''', which is a physiological response to injury. So you'd be '''inflamed''' as well as inflammable.
* '''Mano a mano''' is a commonly used Spanish and Italian term that translate as "hand to hand," (which means the same thing as in English, but with a connotation of "evenly matched"). It '''does not''' means "man to man"[[note]]as two man on man kisses were described at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards[[/note]]. This is what is known in linguistics as a false friend. Sincerely saying that you want to settle things "mano a mano" before [[NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight pulling out a gun is an example.]]
** Although, technically in some countries people shorten the word "hermano" (brother) to just "mano". So it could also be "brother to brother" ("hermano" or "mano" has been used as an identifier even if the person in question is not a sibling at all.)
** Even worse is when someone says "mano y mano" which is hand and hand, making no sense in relation to fighting, and even less sense when they think they are saying "man and man". [[HoYay Unless...]]
* The word '''whom''' is used by many as simply "who, but fancier." "Whom" is a ''direct or indirect object'', so if you ever see someone use it otherwise ("Whom are you?" for example), they're futzing it up. As a general rule, replace the usage of "whom" with "them" (and, correspondingly, "who" with "they") and see if it still makes sense.
** "Whom" is used to describe people something happens ''to'', and "who" describes people who ''do'' something. You might ask about a proposed business deal, "Who affects the deal?" and "Whom does the deal affect?"
* "Wherefore", as in Shakespeare's ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', does not mean "where", but "why"; "wherefore" is to "therefore" as "what" is to "that". Juliet was not wondering where Romeo was, but rather wondering why the man she loved had to be Romeo, one of her family's hated rivals. (Juliet's whole thing in the balcony scene is a meditation on the meaninglessness of labels.)
* People have been told not to say "Me and Joe went to the park", but "Joe and I ...". For too many, this has morphed to a general anxiety around the word "me", so they always use '''and I'''. This is a mistake. "He saw Joe and I" is wrong (it should be "Joe and ''me''").
** "I" is when you are the subject, and "me" is when you're an object. This does not change if you are accompanied by someone else.
** First person singular pronouns always go after anything else when multiple subjects or objects are involved, so "I and ..." is never correct. (This is courtesy, not grammar.)
** If you have trouble knowing whether or not to say "I" or "me", [[https://youtu.be/N4vf8N6GpdM?t=67 take out the other person/thing/whatever and see if the sentence still makes sense]]. ("Joe and I went to the park" changes to "I went to the park", not "Me went to the park")
** This is only the case in formal English, however. In discourse, almost all speakers will accept "Me and Joe went to the park" as an informal but grammatical variant. "Me and Joe" is somewhat more common than "Joe and me", an interesting inversion of the above "first person last" rule.
** Similarly, "He saw Joe and I" is used consistently by some speakers of e.g. Northern Californian English. This is probably hypercorrection in avoiding "me" entirely, as noted above, which has been adopted into the dialect.
** People who have been told that ''and I'' is not a panacea will often abuse the word '''myself'''. This is a mistake as well. Myself is ''reflexive'' -- when you're both the subject and the object. "I wet myself", "I touch myself" and "I cut myself" are all okay (grammatically, that is). "Please send the memo to Joe and myself" is wrong. You mean "... to Joe and me."
** Settling this and the above immediate point of grammatical confusion: In all cases where you list any series of individuals, ending with "and I/me", the way you settle the "I vs. me" is to eliminate everyone else from the list and isolate the "I/me". For instance, "Joseph, Victoria, and I went to the amusement park and rode the Thunderstrike," is correct because "I went to the amusement park..." would also be correct. Similarly, "Grandma Robinson regularly sent Joseph, Victoria, and me $5 checks on our birthdays," is also correct because "Grandma Robinson regularly sent me..." would also be correct.
** Possessives can get awkward as well, such as the cringeworthy "Joe and I's apartment." If you absolutely cannot get away with "Me and Joe's apartment," and the context isn't clear enough to just say "Our apartment," then the correct formal phrasing would be "Joe's and my apartment" for the same reasons listed above: "Joe's apartment" and "My apartment" are both correct by themselves.
* Ah, '''passive''' is another great example. Passive is a ''voice'', not a ''tense''. Similarly, '''indicative''' and '''subjunctive''' are ''moods'', not tenses.
** Also, people tend to confuse progressive aspect with passive voice. "I was kicking the ball" is not in the passive voice. "The ball was kicked by me" is.
*** A quick and easy way to identify passive voice- can you add "by [whatever]" after the verb/is it already there? Thus, you get "His brains were eaten (by [[EverythingsDeaderWithZombies zombies]])"- passive voice, "Zombies were eating his brains (by zombies)"- not passive voice.
*** Well, the examples in [[http://www.bartleby.com/141/strunk5.html#11 Strunk and White]] are a little painful, but not as painful as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime movement to discard passives and all other uses of "be"]].
* A '''vaccine''' is a weakened form of a disease that trains the body how to fight that disease. As mentioned in MagicAntidote, though, people tend to simply replace it with the word "cure." A weakened form of the disease is ''not'' going to help you if you're undergoing the eleventh hour of the full-blown symptoms. It will just make things worse.
** A therapeutic use of a vaccine is most likely to actually be a '''sero-vaccine''', that is a mix between the '''vaccine''' and a '''serum''' containing antibodies against whatever ails the person being treated.
** Originally, "vaccine" specifically meant the ''smallpox'' vaccine. The ''vacc-'' prefix means "cow". It's derived directly from ''vaccinia'' — the cowpox virus — from which the inoculation was originally derived.
*** As an aside, the first person treated with Pasteur's anti-rabies vaccine very likely already had the rabies, the vaccine enabling him to fight the infection. (This is more of a quirk of rabies than anything, it has a very long incubation period meaning that you can vaccinate after exposure. The vaccine is still not a cure.)
* '''Bemused''' has nothing to do with being "amused" -- in fact it means "utterly confused."
** Similarly, '''Nonplussed''' does not mean "aloof" or "unimpressed". It means "bewildered".
*** Or "unperturbed". Non-reacting due to confusion, or just non-reacting.
* '''Slander''' and '''libel''' tend to be used interchangeably. Libel is defamation in the form of ''written'' words, while slander is defamation in the form of ''spoken'' words. '''Defamation''' is a catch-all that covers both. With the advent of the Internet and lower barriers to publishing, the definitions are changing, but libel is generally public postings and slander is generally private words.
** The distinction (in the UK at least) comes from the permanence of the defamatory statement. If I said it to someone in a restaurant it's slander. If it happened to be inadvertently recorded and put in a movie soundtrack or written in an article, it's libel.
*** A.P. Herbert took this to the length of parody in "The Lawyer's Dream", where a bench of judges are arguing interminably about whether an audio recording is libel or slander?
** Mentioned in the first ''Film/SpiderMan1'' movie, as follows:
--->'''Peter Parker:''' Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city... he was trying to save it. That's slander.\\
'''J. Jonah Jameson:''' It is not. I resent that. [[ITakeOffenseToThatLastOne Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.]]
** Also note for EaglelandOsmosis purposes that in all civil-law jurisdictions and many common-law ones (e.g. Virginia), slander and libel do not exist/have been merged and there is only "defamation" to cover injury arising from false statements, whether spoken or written. Also note that even in common-law jurisdictions that still respect the distinction, the only significant difference (in most jurisdictions) is in the proof needed for damages: with libel, all you need to show is "general" damages, i.e. put forward a good-faith estimate as to how much the damage to your reputation has cost you, but with slander, you need to prove "special" damages, i.e. need to point to at least one situation in which the injury to reputation had actually and directly harmed you (e.g. cost you a job) before you can collect anything (although if you can prove special damages, you can usually collect general damages as well).
* In {{Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game}}s, people often say, "Spell X has been '''casted'''" or "I have casted spell X". There is no word "casted". The word "cast" covers both present and past tenses. So both, "I will cast spell X on the monster" and "I have cast spell X on the monster" are the correct forms. The same conjugation is also used regardless of the specific thing or person being cast: Some sculptures are cast, actors are cast in movies.
* '''Puritanical''' means keeping "practicing or enforcing strict religious behavior." Its only tangentially related to anything sex related, and most certainly does not mean enforcing current laws about the age of consent (which in most countries is higher than the age specified in the dominant religion and derived from quite secular legislation). This does not stop more than a few pedophiles from calling such laws "puritanical."
* Another mistake frequently made in fantasy contexts is the conjugation of '''slay'''. As seen on acres of Disney World merchandise, "I slayed the dragon" is incorrect. "Slay" doesn't work like "play." Instead, it should be "I ''slew'' the dragon." Alternatively, "I ''have slain'' the dragon."
** {{Lampshaded}} in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', where Willow on one occasion had difficulty coming up with the right form. Giles, surprisingly, says either ''slew'' or ''slayed'' will do.
** You do not '''seen''' something. You ''saw'' it, or you ''have seen'' it, but you never '''seen''' it.
*** Most uses of the phrase "I seen it," especially those with enough emphasis to rule out a slurred "I've", are identifying the speaker as a hick.
* '''Inbreeding''' means [[KissingCousins breeding among]] [[BrotherSisterIncest closely related]] [[ParentalIncest individuals]]. Not breeding with members of another group or anything else. The confusion likely comes from the similar-sounding word "interbreeding." But ''in'' or ''intra'' refers to the inside and ''inter'' refers to the outside. [[note]]Other-word example: business between Los Angeles (in California) and Las Vegas (in Nevada) (e.g. an Angelino sells his 1964 Impala to someone in Vegas) is "interstate trade" or "interstate commerce". Business between Los Angeles and San Francisco (also in California) (same Angelino sells same car, but to someone in SF) is "intrastate trade" or "intrastate commerce".[[/note]] By the same token, '''interbreeding''' should not be used to mean marrying your sister.
* Similarly, a '''butler''' is the head of a large household of servants, dealing specifically with the wine cellars -- "butler" is, in fact, a corruption of "bottler". Because Jeeves is Bertie Wooster's only servant, his first job title would be "valet", although butlers may double as valets and vice versa.
** In one story, Jeeves' feelings are actually hurt when he is called on to buttle. That the normally unflappable "gentleman's gentleman" takes offense at something that seems trivial to us says that at one point it was a much more important distinction.
** Additionally, valet, when referring to a gentleman's servant, is always pronounced such that it rhymes with "pallet" or "mallet". Valet prounounced in the French style, such that it rhymes with "chalet", is an attendant who parks your car. In the United States, anyway. In the United Kingdom, they don't seem to make a distinction.
* While we're on the subject, '''claret'''--meaning a type of red Bordeaux wine and its associated colour--is pronounced to rhyme approximately with "merit". The word is a very old English borrowing, deriving from [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff medieval English nobles' love of a kind of dark rosé Bordeaux]] called ''clairet'', which the English eventually changed to "claret" as they began speaking English rather than French as a first language. They eventually began just calling any Bordeaux "claret," and when the preference of the English nobility (who [[UsefulNotes/NationalDrinks still love French wine, especially Bordeaux]]) shifted from a rosé to dark red, the name didn't change. Pronouncing it in the French manner is a hyperforeignism and frowned upon by the people who actually drink it. (You might be forgiven for your first offence if you're from a region or group that isn't familiar with the term--for instance, the same wine marketed as a "claret" in England will just be called a Bordeaux in America--but once you've been warned, you're on your own.)
* '''Interstellar''' means traveling between stars. Earth to Alpha Centauri is interstellar; Earth to Mars is interplanetary (and for heaven's sake not ''intergalactic''). ''Intrastellar'' travel would be travel within a star; ''transstellar'' would be across one; do not try either of these without serious heat shields or cooling tech unless you want to get fried to a crisp[[note]]You'll also get crushed; the sun masses c. 2 nonillion tons and averages half again as dense as water.[[/note]]. If you absolutely want to keep the ''stellar'' root for some reason, you might want to try ''circumstellar'' or ''parastellar'' on for size.
* To '''infer''' and to '''imply''' are different things. Person A may infer that Person B is stupid from the latter's misuse of words. Person A may then imply Person B's stupidity through witticism. Person B's inevitably incorrect response will be "Are you inferring that I'm stupid?" Person B is, in fact, inferring that Person A is implying that Person B is stupid, and they're right.
** The difference has been lampshaded by [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Lisa Simpson]] and [[Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit John Munch]]: "You infer. I imply."
** As annoying as this can be for anyone with an interest in logic or literature, the use of infer to mean "suggest" is in fact ''very'' old; John Dryden is just the most famous writer to have used it that way. The difference between "infer" and "imply" is very useful, but it's actually wishful thinking to claim that the words have always meant different things.
** {{Lampshaded}} and PlayedWith in ''Series/TheDresdenFiles'' TV series:
-->'''Harry''': [[OurDragonsAreDifferent These drakes]], right, they can change shape? They're magical, immortal and all that. But you can change your appearance and you're magical and [stutters] you've been around a long, long time.
-->'''Ancient Mai''': Are you inferring something?
-->'''Harry''': Technically, I'm implying. You're inferring.
-->'''Mai''': Well, it's dangerous either way.
-->'''Harry''': You didn't answer my question.
-->'''Mai''': You didn't ask one. Which, at least, shows some common sense.
** {{Lampshaded}} in ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' Series Two, Episode Three:
-->'''Hugh''': Just tell me, truthfully, did you send that email?
-->'''Terri''': No I didn't... and [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow you know I didn't.]]
-->'''Hugh''': Sorry, are you inferring...?
-->'''Terri''': Implying.
-->'''Hugh''': You're implying that... it was me?
** One of Adam Warren's ''ComicBook/DirtyPair'' short stories has this as its main plot.
** This mistake is one of the [[MinorFlawMajorBreakup minor flaws]] that bother Music/WeirdAlYankovic so much in "Close But No Cigar".
* '''Disinterested''' is ''not'' a synonym for '''uninterested'''; it means, rather, that you are unbiased or have no vested interest.
** Though it wouldn't be unreasonable to be uninterested because you are disinterested.
** A good judge is disinterested; a tough audience is uninterested.
*** Ironically, the earliest recorded use of "disinterested" is in the sense that now belongs to "uninterested".
* A '''light-year''' is a measure of distance: the distance light travels in a year. Many writers have [[UnitConfusion made the mistake]] of using the term to describe a very long period of time. This is the one mistake ''guaranteed'' to infuriate pedants.
** In ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'', the only trainer in the first Gym remarks, "You're light years away from beating Brock!" but then admits "Light years isn't time! It measures distance!" when beaten.
** Of course, often what a pedant interprets as literal but incorrect time could also be figurative and correct distance; a SufficientlyAdvancedAlien might well be light-years more advanced than us if you take it to be a metaphor using distance in place of quantity of technical and scientific knowledge.
*** In fact the construction "light-years ahead" is parallel to "miles ahead". Some pedants need to actually pay attention to the language they're using.
*** Literally, "to advance" is "to move forward", so if we define forward to be the direction of the alien planet, then it is most mechanically literal to interpret that as true, even if the aliens are using rocks. To interpret "advanced" as meaning the aliens have more sophisticated technology and comprehensive scientific knowledge is itself a figurative use of language.
** Of course, it's possible to get this both right [[http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/kw/stars-far-away and wrong at the same time]].
* Similar to "light year", '''parsec''' is short for "parallax second", but is also a measure of distance, not time: 3.3 light years.[[note]]The distance to an object from the Sun if it has a one second yearly wobble in its appearant position in the sky due to being viewed from ''the Earth at different positions in space'' (different sides of the Sun). Even the closest star is a bit further away, meaning its parallax is smaller than one second.[[/note]] "Second" in this case refers to "seconds of arc", ''i.e.'', 1/3600 of a degree = 1/21,600th of a full circle. The ''[[Franchise/StarWars Millennium Falcon]]'' was able to shave ''distance'' off a smuggling run.[[note]]Or, as some fans like to believe, Han Solo was simply talking rubbish. (The original script actually contains stage directions to this effect, i.e. "Obi-Wan reacts with skepticism to Han Solo's attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation"; unfortunately, WordOfGod says it didn't quite come through on-screen, due to some poorly-timed film cuts between Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford.[[/note]]
* '''Conspicuous''' means "obvious," not "suspicious," no matter the way it sounds. Thus, if something was conspicuously absent, you are merely able to notice that it was absent; you do not necessarily have to raise an eyebrow at its absence.
** This may come from a character saying that they need to remain "inconspicuous" while in disguise or something similar. The character wants it to not be obvious they are in a disguise and consequently not be suspicious. Since they can say, "I want to be inconspicuous," or, "I don't want to be suspicious," interchangeably in such a situation, this may be why people equate them.
** By itself, conspicuous may not mean suspicious, but in that particular context it is implied the same as saying something is remarkably or questionably absent.
* '''Fascism''' is a loose political ideology that combines nationalism, militarism, anti-socialism and conservatism ([[EnemyMine insofar as Fascists and Conservatives can both agree that socialism and liberalism are bad]]). It's also associated with [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness anti-conservatism]] (because unlike conservatives they look to the future and not to the past for their ideal end-goal society), futurism, corporatism (i.e. Country-Corporation co-operation), military expansionism, and Social Darwinism. It's not a synonym for authoritarian, since one can be oppressive without being fascist. Most modern people and political parties that don't self-identify as "fascist" probably aren't fascists. Definite no-no's include communists, socialists, anarchists, feminists, environmentalists, liberals, libertarians, inter/anti-nationalists, pacifists, the USA's Republican and Democratic Parties, [[Creator/GeorgeOrwell Youth Hostels, Gandhi, women and dogs]]. To be more precise, even people showing antisemitic or xenophobic cannot be called "fascists" indiscriminately, as the original fascism introduced in Italy by Mussolini wasn't heavy on ethnic- or race- based xenophobia (fascists' aggression was usually directed towards their internal political enemies, chiefly the Catholic Trade Unions and Socialist Parties, while also strongly promoting Italian language and culture based nationalism). It was German National Socialism ("Nazism" or "Hitlerism") that introduced the ideas of racial superiority.
* '''Corporatism''' is the doctrine promoted by Mussolini that society should function as a body (Latin: ''corpus'') in which each of the various sectors of society (government, business, labor, etc.) are treated as "organs" within the body, interdependent and working toward the betterment of the whole. The term can include big business, but is broader than a simple collusion between business and government; "corporatism" has absolutely nothing to do with the English word "corporation."
** Relatedly, '''corporate personhood''' does not refer to letting companies vote or adopt children the way individual citizens can. It means a group of people ("a body") are treated as one person for administrative and certain legal purposes (particularly certain economic rights, including, most importantly, the right to enter into contracts and the right to sue and be sued). Perhaps ironically, "abolishing corporate personhood," if done without extremely fine precision, could ban labor unions, Indian tribes petitioning for reparations, and class-action lawsuits.
** And while we're at it, '''Corporation'''(public) and a '''Limited Liability Company'''(private) are two different things. Most people haven't even heard of the latter but their rights are the ones people often attribute "Corporate Personhood." To summarize, from a financial, and only financial, standpoint, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a person. This is because the whole reason [=LLCs=] even exist is so that a person can create a bufferzone between their business and their personal wealth. I.E. so no one can sue your local Mom and Pop coffee house for all their worth if their coffee ends up being too hot. Corporations do not have all of the same privileges that [=LLCs=]. For example a corporation can't discriminate on who it hires but an LLC ''can.'' On the other hand, [=LLC=] don't enjoy as many tax exemptions as corporations. From a legal perspective an LLC is person who enjoys the same, no more no less, privileges as an individual doing business.
* Strictly speaking, there is no single period in prehistory called '''[[OneMillionBC the Stone Age]]'''. The term originates from a listing of the three stages of a prehistoric society: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. In the most literal sense of the term, cowboys fought members of the Stone Age in the Wild Wild West; heck, there were still "Stone Age" people living in isolated parts of the world by the time ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' first went on air. The term is usually limited to Eurasian cultures, which complicates things.
** Strictly speaking, humanity as a whole had a single "Stone Age" (during which no sub-group had advanced beyond stone tools), after which the "Stone Age" becomes a term with more limited application, and terms such as "Bronze Age" began to apply as soon as one group use bronze for this purpose, even though they were the only ones. Likewise, the Stone Age would have begun with the first evidence of stone tools rather than the point at which stone tools become ubiquitous. Arguing otherwise would be akin to stating that we don't really live in the Space Age because most people alive right now have never ventured into space.
** Similarly, '''prehistoric''' does not necessarily mean ancient. "History" is "the study of what ancient people ''wrote'' about themselves," so for something to count as prehistoric, it merely has to predate the invention of writing (which was about 3500 BC). For this reason, there still exists a number of societies today which count as "prehistoric".
** Also, the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age were more a reference to the archaeology of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
* '''Yea''' is an an archaic version of "yes" (sometimes still used in very formal context where one is asked to vote "yea" or "nay"). It is not an alternative spelling of "yeah", and is pronounced differently.
** And cartoonists often confuse it with "Yay!", which sounds the same but is a different word, an interjection expressing delight or enthusiasm. ("Yay/Yea, we won the game!")
** This is very probably simple coincidence due to onomatopoeia. The real instance of this trope would be those who misinterpret the older usage as being the newer usage.
* '''Object''' (the noun acted on by the verb) and '''subject''' (the noun [[BuffySpeak doing the verbing]]) are opposites.
* People use the word '''vagina''' to describe both a woman's vulva (external genitalia) and vagina (internal genitalia). Even the author of ''The Vagina Monologues''.
** Just to avoid making a false equivalency, "vulva" describes the entire external genitalia of the female, while "vagina" is one element of the internal genitalia (which also include the uterus, ovaries, etc).