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Misused Words

A writer might sometimes use a word incorrectly, and this occurs when the word does not mean what
he or she thinks it does. So, it is important to be certain of the definition of a word before using it;
this often happens with words that sound or look alike.

Example:
There are many behaviors that past societies considered legal but are now deemed amoral including
slavery, sexism, and racism.
Explanation:
The writer confused the word amoral with immoral. The former means neither moral nor immoral
(without moral quality) while the latter means not moral. Sometimes, it is easy to guess the correct
meaning of a word just by looking at how it is spelled. The prefix a- signals that something is without
such as in anarachy (without a government) or atypical (without typical features). On the other
hand, the prefix im- simply means not such as in imperfect (not perfect) or impossible (not
possible).

Words with Unwanted Connotations


There are words that take on a meaning specific to a context. Some writers might not be aware of
these connotations, so they end up using language that is unintentionally confusing, comical or even
offensive to readers.

Example:
The coast guard salvaged Priscilla and her sister after their fishing boat was damaged in the storm.
Explanation:
The word salvage means to save usually from the wreckage of a marine vessel. However, the
Philippine media and police often use the term to mean a violent killing, which is opposite from its
traditional English meaning. It comes from the Spanish word salvaje that has a meaning similar to
savage. Thus, if the writer produced this text for a Filipino audience, the meaning that he or she
intended would be lost. Using the word saved or rescued would remedy the issue.

Technical or Highfalutin Words


Writers want to sound smart by using words that are very technical or have deep meanings. Though
some writing genres require the use of such words, writers should still be careful about using them
since they make readers work harder to understand texts.

Example:
There is an ongoing discourse about the antidisestablishment assemblage and the administrative
political body.

Explanation:
The text is complicated because it is filled with words that are difficult to understand. If the terms are
important to use, then the writer could define what they mean. Otherwise, the sentence could be
rewritten simply this way: There is an ongoing discussion between the opposition and the government.
This sentence still sounds smart but it is easier for most people to understand and it does not change
the meaning of the original sentence in any way.