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Affect vs. effect: Those and other words commonly misused by people




A pencil rests on top of a dictionary showing the definition for the word
A pencil rests on top of a dictionary showing the definition for the word "education"
Photo by cityyear/Andy Dean via Flickr Creative Commons

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It’s embarrassing but true, even the best of us can misspeak and use a word incorrectly.

Can't figure out the difference between "affect" and "effect." Squabbled over the meaning of "factoid"? Ever wonder what "per se" really means? (Hint: a lot of people are using it wrong). Well, you're not alone. The brother-sister writing duo,Ross Petras and Kathyrn Petras, compiled a little book of the top most misused words called, "That Doesn't Mean What You Think it Means (The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words and Their Tangled Histories)."

Every entry comes with a cringe-worthy, historical example of the word misapplied by a high-profile speaker, ranging from news outlets to world leaders. Along with each humbling citation of a smarty-pants sounding not-so-smart, comes with a bite-size etymological story of how the word came to be so commonly confused.  

Guest:

Kathryn Petras, co-author with Ross Petras of a number of books, including their latest, “That Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means" (Ten Speed Press, 2018)