‘Materiel’ means military materials WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!
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.
SO MANY WORDS
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