‘Ma­teriel’ means mil­i­tary ma­te­ri­als WATCH YOUR LAN­GUAGE!

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - BER­NADETTE KINLAW

I’m writ­ing again about words that look and sound sim­i­lar but have dis­tinc­tions that you should know so you don’t sound ill-in­formed.

■ Ma­teriel ver­sus ma­te­rial

“Ma­teriel” is the equip­ment or sup­plies used by mil­i­tary forces. “Ma­te­rial” is a more sweep­ing term mean­ing mat­ter, el­e­ments, cloth or tools.

If you keep in mind that ma­teriel — the one end­ing in “iel” — is as­so­ci­ated with the mil­i­tary, you should be OK. Also, ma­teriel never takes an “s” at the end, but ma­te­rial may.

The copters, long over­due, dropped off ma­teriel for the troops.

I love sta­tionery stores for their se­lec­tion of writ­ing ma­te­ri­als.

■ Ord­nance ver­sus or­di­nance

“Ord­nance,” an­other mil­i­tary term, in­cludes am­mu­ni­tion and weapons. An “or­di­nance” is a town or city reg­u­la­tion.

You’d be safe pass­ing an or­di­nance, but be care­ful about pass­ing ord­nance.

■ Hangar ver­sus hanger

A “hangar” is a shed for air­craft. A “hanger” is some­thing you store clothes on. Even a teeny plane prob­a­bly would not fit inside a hanger.

■ Ap­praise ver­sus ap­prise

When you ex­press an opin­ion on the worth of some­thing, you ap­praise it. When you give in­for­ma­tion on a sit­u­a­tion, you are ap­pris­ing some­one.

Wrong: The colonel ap­praised the gen­eral on the bat­tle.

Right: The colonel ap­prised the gen­eral on the bat­tle.

■ Iter­ate ver­sus re­it­er­ate

Fooled you on this one.

Crazily, these two mean the same thing. When you iter­ate some­thing, you say it again and again. When you re­it­er­ate some­thing, you say it again and again.

Both words have been in the lan­guage for cen­turies. I’ve rarely used iter­ate, only re­it­er­ate. Now I can save my­self two let­ters.


How do I use the word “myr­iad”? In myr­iad ways? Well, at least two.

The word comes from a Greek word mean­ing “10,000.” It en­tered English mean­ing a large num­ber.

It started in the noun form, as a thing. But later the ad­jec­ti­val, or de­scrip­tive, form came

into use. That’s where things now stand.

Ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press Style­book, myr­iad is to be used as an ad­jec­tive only. But un­der other guide­lines, myr­iad can be ei­ther a noun or an ad­jec­tive.

The sales­woman showed me myr­iad dresses be­fore I was able to set­tle on one.

A good buf­fet should have a myr­iad of desserts, in my opin­ion.


I’ve been try­ing to come up with a term for two words that sound the same and have dif­fer­ent mean­ings, though I have no idea what ei­ther def­i­ni­tion is. Maybe “ig­no­ral­o­gos” or “lo­goigno­ramia.”

One ex­am­ple is “fey” vs. “fay.”

Fey has many mean­ings, in­clud­ing “doomed,” “crazy” and “ex­ces­sively re­fined, pre­cious.” That cov­ers a lot of ground.

Fay means “to fit or join closely.” As with so many words, I knew this was part of the lan­guage only after I suc­cess­fully used it in Scrab­ble.


This week’s lesser-known word is “hy­ponym.” It ac­tu­ally be­comes a twofer be­cause I need an­other ob­scure word to ex­plain it.

A hy­ponym (high´-ponim) is an ex­am­ple of some­thing within a larger cat­e­gory called a su­per­or­di­nate.

A su­per­or­di­nate is an over­all group, such as “an­i­mals.” Hy­ponyms that would fit into that group: panda, ot­ter or llama.

Blue Cray­ola col­ors make up a su­per­or­di­nate.

Hy­ponyms would in­clude aqua­ma­rine, cerulean, corn­flower, indigo and robin’s egg blue.

Sources: usin­genglish. com, ox­ford­dic­tionar­ies.com, gram­marist.com, Wash­ing­ton State Univer­sity, m-w.com

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/NIKKI DAWES

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