Monthly Archives: March 2009

Three phrases I hate to hear spoken–myself, literally and exact same

 Phrase I 

The use of the word “myself.”  It makes me crazy when people say things like, “After the meeting, see Joe or myself for more information,” or “Jill and myself worked on the project.”

In the first example, it should be Joe and me, and in the second it should be Jill and I.


The general rule is that you use “myself” along with the word “I.”  For example, “I will do it myself.”

I think there are all kinds of grammar terms like reflexive nouns, etc. to explain this by this is my everyday explanation.   If you have comments, email me.  (Not myself)


Phrase II

My son, Chad McDonnell, suggested this one, but I have had it in the back of my mind for some time too. (Great minds)  It is the use of the word “literally.”  Think of it as being synonymous with the word “actually.” It does not mean metaphorically or figuratively.

It is not correct, but I often hear, to say, “I literally laughed my head (or other body part) off.  In addition, I don’t think anyone has literally died laughing, no matter what the circumstances.


I think I remember a skit on Saturday Night Live that poked fun at people who use these words wrong.


Phrase III

This one is prevalent in everyday conversations, on radio talk shows and on television. It is the use of the term “exact same.”  This is REDUNDANT—something can’t be somewhat the same.

Just say, “The dress Buffy wore was the same as the one Muffy wore.”  No “exact” needed thank you.


So, you have been warned. Do not use these phrases, especially around me.


4/21/09  I just read a blog post on the Writer’s Digest magazine (a great one for writers) blog about exact same. Brian Klems concurs about the term exact same.


8/31/09   Just heard someone on television say that “people LITERALLY came out of the woodwork.”  Now that I would like to see.



What’s up?

fllicker  geishaboy500
flickr geishaboy500

READERS of wordsbybob:

I intend to have most posts be my original thoughts but I couldn’t pass this one up. It came in an email from my friend Darla. It not sourced, so I guess it is just one of those items that is created in cyberspace. If I knew the author, I would acknowledge him or her.

 There is a two-letter word in English that has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘UP.

It is listed in the dictionary as being used as an adverb, preposition, adjective, noun and verb.

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for re-election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times, the little word has a real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

Moreover, this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it does not rain for a while, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now … my time is UP, so time to shut UP!

Oh…one more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night? U P

Now I’ll shut UP.


Regional words

Most of us know that various regions of the United States have different terms for the same thing. I was reminded of this when the local newspaper  did an article titled, “Americans say the strangest things.” It references the just completed book titled Dictionary of American Regional English. (Looks like it is available for sale at the online booksellers)


I guess I first became aware that people from other states or areas of the country labeled common items by different names when I enlisted in the Air Force. The one I remember most (and is mentioned in the newspaper) is “soda” verse “pop.” Growing up in Iowa, we drank bottles or cans of pop. My friends from the eastern U.S. called it soda. To us, soda had a dip of ice  cream in it. Now, in Colorado, I hear a mix because people have migrated here from all over. To confuse things, I also learned of an “egg cream.” This is chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer water.


Still on the subject of drinks, we also debated the word “malt”,or malted milk. This was a rare treat for us as kids. My buddies from the east part of the U.S.A. alluded to a frappe, which they considered similar. The web says a frappe is more like a fruit smoothie.


The newspaper article also listed the different terms for a submarine sandwich. Some call the same sandwich a “hero”, “hoagie” or “grinder.” It says in Florida, it is known as a Cuban sandwich. Where the po’ boy sandwich fits in is not clear to me. I guess most are too young to call it a “Dagwood” sandwich.

It seems some places use the term “bag” and others use “sack” for a container to hold or tote things. I was reminded of this when I worked in a grocery store. We were called baggers or bag boys (no girls allowed at the time) but some called this position a sacker. Somehow, I don’t like the word “caddy” to apply to the young men and women who do the same task.


I also found a discrepancy on the use for the carts used to hold groceries as I shop. I have heard them called “buggies”, which seems odd to me.


Lastly, the terms for our daily meals has blurred. I ate breakfast, lunch and supper growing up. As I traveled around, I found some called the noon meal or the evening repast dinner. Hmmm.

Share your regional terms or labels with us 

Flicrk indio1

Flicrk indio1

Anagram grid


I have a piece of paper on my office bulletin board with these anagram (anagramatical?) words on it.  Unfortunately, I do not remember where I got it. My memory seems to recall that it was back when I was doing some calligraphy, and I needed some phrases to put to ink.

I have been told the words are Latin, but have not verified this.

The beauty of this work is that the words read forward, backward, and both horizontally and vertically.  I think there are 16 different wordsin this matrix or grid.

Are there others like this?

5/15/09  While surfing the web, I discovered this is really a palindrome square.

A door is a door is a what?


by Bob McDonnell

Funny signs make me laugh. It seems they are everywhere if we just look around. I have been in Walgreens hundreds of times. One of my most recent visits to the one in west Loveland made me stop in my tracks. Over by the photo center was door. Presumably, it was a door to a storage space or work area. I know it was not a door to the outside.

Anyway, the sign over the door said NO ENTRY OR EXIT. Hmmm. I guess I don’t know why they put this hole it the wall then. If it said employees only, or not an exit, I would have been okay. Saying it is not an entrance baffled me, since there was no way for me (or anyone else) to use it from the outside. Moreover, isn’t it an entrance for the people who went into it. I don’t think they had any other way out.

I haven’t had time to see if the other Walgreen’s in town have the same sign.

Does yours?

Blog posts by other bloggers with funny signs:

Lady O’s Daily Thoughts

Anxious or eager, which are you?

flickr  ataelw

flickr ataelw

For many, many years, I have misused the word “anxious.” More times than I want to admit now, I could be heard to say things like, “I am anxious to go on vacation” or “I am anxiously awaiting some good news.” WRONG. I should have said I was eager for a vacation or the good news, assuming both were of a positive nature.

Anxious means worried, troubled, disturbed or full of mental distress.

Eager, on the other hand, means impatiently expecting or longing or having a keen interest in something.

 Anxious is derived from a word that means pain or stress while eager comes from a work meaning sharp.

See how many times you hear the word misused in the next few days.

I eagerly, but not anxiously, await your comments.

Cage-free eggs?

Reading a breakfast menu at a restaurant in Fort Collins yesterday cracked me up. (Sorry, had to do a pun) My wife and I were eating at a long-standing, mostly vegetarian, used-to-be hippie place near Colorado State University. They have moved over the years, upgraded the décor, and expanded the menu some. I like the place.

We hadn’t been there for quite a while, and the menu looked like it has been revamped. The menu term that caught my eye right away was “cage free” eggs. (It was cage free on one page and Cage Free on the next—sans hyphen in both cases) I have heard of free-range chickens, but I did not know that eggs were being subjected to incarceration. Much to my surprise, a Google search of “cage-free eggs” yielded 325,000 hits. Who knew?

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