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StephenT [userpic]

Public Service Announcement #2

29th June 2010 (18:27)
Tags: ,

*ahem*

The word weary means 'tired, fatigued'.

The word wary means 'cautious, alert to danger'.

They are not synonyms!

If you're wary of something, you've become suspicious of it; you suspect it might not be all that it seems and it might be dangerous.
If you're weary of something, you've become fed up with it; it's tiring you out and now you're exhausted,either physically or mentally.

Sure, sometimes you can use both words in the same context. If someone is always lying to you, and you've got tired of it, you can say both "I'm wary of listening to him" (because he always lies) and "I'm weary of listening to him" (because he always lies). But those two sentences each mean something different!

Questions? Comments?
 


Comments

Posted by: Jonathan Korman (jonathankorman)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 17:33 (UTC)

My spelling is terrible, but I have zero tolerance for misspellings that result in writing the wrong word.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 17:43 (UTC)

Weary/wary isn't just a misspelling, though: using the wrong word changes the entire meaning of the sentence and you can't always work out from context which one the writer meant.

Posted by: Jonathan Korman (jonathankorman)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 17:46 (UTC)

Aye. There needs to be a word for “misspellings” that change a word into another word.

Posted by: Denita (menomegirl)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 18:30 (UTC)

'Catachresis' is a noun that means strained or paradoxical use of words either in error (as 'blatant' to mean 'flagrant') or deliberately (as in a mixed metaphor: 'blind mouths').

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:30 (UTC)

May I ask you what's the difference between blatant and flagrant? I'm not a native speaker and the on line dictionnary I had a look at didn't distinguish between the two words.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:56 (UTC)

Good question, since my dictionary actually gives 'flagrant' as one of the definitions of 'blatant'. :-)

The original meaning of 'blatant' was 'loud', 'bellowing', or 'offensively noisy'. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "In recent usage: obtrusive to the eye (rather than to the ear as in orig. senses); glaringly or defiantly conspicuous; palpably prominent or obvious. It's most often used in the phrase "a blatant lie", meaning one that makes no pretence to be convincing. Or you could say, "He was blatantly stealing the stuff right in front of everybody."

'Flagrant', on the other hand, literally means 'burning' or on fire', from the Latin. (The Latin expression 'in flagrante delicto' (or shortened to just in flagrante is still widely used in Britain, usually with sexual connotations.) In modern usage, again from the OED:, Of an offence, crime, etc.; also of an offender: Glaring, notorious, scandalous, ‘flaming into notice. for example, "He was guilty of a flagrant violation of the law".

So they're both disapproving words used to describe a crime or similar faux pas which is being carried out brazenly, openly and shamelessly - but one word uses an aural metaphor ("loud") and the other uses a visual/tangible one ("on fire").

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 30th June 2010 13:28 (UTC)

Thank you for the reasearch and explanations.

Posted by: Denita (menomegirl)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 22:01 (UTC)

"Blatant" and "Flagrant" are often confused, because the words have overlapping meanings. Both attribute conspicuousness and offensiveness to certain acts.

"Blatant" emphasizes the failure to conceal the act.

"Flagrant," on the other hand, emphasizes the serious wrongdoing inherent in the offense.

Certain contexts may allow either word depending on what is meant; for example, a violation of human rights may be either blatant or flagrant. If it was committed with contempt for public scrutiny, it is blatant. If its barbarity was monstrous, it is flagrant.

"Blatant" is also sometimes used to mean "obvious".

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 30th June 2010 13:28 (UTC)

Thank you for the explanations.

Posted by: alexeia_drae (alexeia_drae)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 17:33 (UTC)
bunnies

Pet peeve? :-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 17:47 (UTC)

Not at all. I just read yet another example of someone getting it wrong, and decided to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. :-)

(My PSA #1 was about the difference between an arc and an arch, if I remember rightly...)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 18:23 (UTC)

Now if we could just scientifically break down which people genuinely don't know the difference between the two words, and which people just rely too much on their word processor's spell check to do their "proofreading" for them.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:44 (UTC)

What gets me is 'wary' and 'weary' aren't even pronounced the same. (Or maybe they are in some dialects?)

Posted by: singer_shaper (singer_shaper)
Posted at: 2nd July 2010 22:17 (UTC)
subtitles

They might sound similar in the Deep South (U.S.), as "pen" and "pin" do.

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:27 (UTC)

Such confusions are irritating.
But shoudn't this PSA be N°3, I seem to remember that once you explained the difference between cannon and canon?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:43 (UTC)

It's possible I did. I know I've done at least one similar post before, which is why I numbered this #2, but I couldn't find it to check. (Clearly I fail at tagging.)

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:51 (UTC)
Hmm

Hmm - add it to my biggest bugbear and we could have a very nasty case of people being weary of loosing their virginity....

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 19:59 (UTC)

Well, if you unleash your virginity on people a lot, you'd get weary of it eventually. (Cue image of Buffy's allegedly regenerating hymen...)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 20:14 (UTC)

Oooo! There's vampirey precedent here! The Spanish-language Drácula from 1931 (shot at night on the same set as the Bela Lugosi one) is often cited as a case of how censorship was a lot more lax for non-English pictures at the time, since it supposedly has the Lucy character describe her encounter with Dracula with the phrase "The next morning I felt very weak, as if I had lost my virginity." Of course, what actually happened was that the American subtitler got virginidad mixed up with vitalidad.

And this would be the point where we point out all of Angel's references to Buffy being full of life...

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 29th June 2010 20:47 (UTC)
Oh Dear

Well, if you unleash your virginity on people a lot, you'd get weary of it eventually.

My own thought exactly.

Although one might also be wary of falling over a passing unfettered virginity set loose by someone else...

Posted by: rapunzel215 (rapunzel215)
Posted at: 2nd July 2010 01:11 (UTC)

I also hate it when people confuse the words "wonder" and "wander". I see that in fan fic all the time.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd July 2010 21:42 (UTC)

But wonder and wandre are pronounced differently... how could you confuse them for each other???
;-)

Posted by: singer_shaper (singer_shaper)
Posted at: 2nd July 2010 22:19 (UTC)
subtitles

They are pronounced differently, but spelled much more similarly in American English. I imagine that someone who's tired and/or not paying attention for other reasons would easily confuse them and not notice, especially if they're relying on spell-check to correct them.

I hope to work as an editor one day, so I find this discussion both helpful and amusing. ;)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd July 2010 22:31 (UTC)

It was only when you quoted my post that I noticed I'd spelled 'wander' as 'wandre'. That really is a typo, not some odd British English spelling. Sorry. :-)

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