Wednesday, July 10, 2013
differential: (n) Does NOT mean difference. It is part of the power train of a car. When a sportscaster asks, "What is the differential of these two teams?" he is curious about the ability of all the players to rotate independently.
disinterested: (adj) Does NOT mean uninterested. It is impartial. If you tell someone you're disinterested in the story of her gall bladder, you mean that you're willing to give her a full, fair, unbiased hearing of the entire tedious episode.
epicenter: (n) Is NOT a fancy synonym for center but the edge or verge of the center. The epicenter of an earthquake is the point of the earth directly above the center, which may be miles underground. If you say, "New York is the epicenter of fashion," you're implying the center is somewhere in Newark.
literally: (adv) Is NOT an intensifier for an exaggerated or figurative statement. It means in actually, as in an actual event. If your coworker says, "I literally worked my ass off," call an ambulance.
problematic: (adj) Does NOT refer to any unpleasant or disagreeable situation. It means uncertain or complex. When someone says his irritable bowels are problematic, he's elevating doo-doo to the level of quantum physics.
transpire: (verb): Does NOT mean occur, but to be disclosed. A phrase such as "after World War II transpired," implies nobody knew it had happened until they were told about it.