Oh, Bother

No, I don’t mean “Oh, brother,” but it basically means the same thing.

Here are some words that are a real bother to some people as they try to use them in their writing. (They are also a bother to people who read that writing if the words are not used correctly.)

Recently I read a book of well-written short stories. In the whole book I only came across two mistakes, but one of them really jarred me.

The character in the story went fishing and was waiting for that allusive bite.

I groaned and shrieked out loud. It grated so much and ruined that short story. That is the only thing I remember about the story. Allusive! I suppose it could have been an allusive bite if the fish was referring to something as he took the bait. Maybe he was saying to his school of fish, “Now, class, here is the perfect example of the kind of bait to avoid – the kind I was alluding to in our last lecture.” Of course, the writer meant to say “elusive.”

*****

Here are two more words that are similar and cause a lot of trouble for both writers and readers. I’ll confess right now that this one used to give me headaches before I got their meanings straight.

restive/restless

I used to think those were opposites. They are, in fact, very similar in meaning.

Restive means “difficult to control or keep still.”

Example:

The Kindergarten class was restive as the children awaited the arrival of the visitors.

Restless means “unable to rest, fidgety.”

I tossed and turned all night. I had so much on my mind that it made me restless.

*****

Here is one more. These two words can actually have four meanings.

plane/plain

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. The plains are the flat prairie lands. It’s interesting though, that the plains are flat, and yet to plane something, such as a piece of wood, also makes it flat. Uh-oh! Now I’ve confused you.

Add to that, something plain, or ordinary for transportation and you have a plane that will fly you to your destination.

If you had a workshop in the prairies, on the plain, you could use your planer to plane some wood and build yourself an ordinary, or plain flying machine, a plane.

*****

So do you remember who is known for saying, “Oh, bother”?

I’ll give you a happy face if you guess it.

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14 thoughts on “Oh, Bother

  1. I don’t have nearly the skills you have, Anneli, and I could see right away the difference between Allusive and Elusive. Very different words. Plane and Plain, are very different words.

    Liked by 1 person

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