Ambrose Bierce is best known for The Devil's Dictionary, but the prolific journalist, satirist, and fabulist was also a usage maven. In 1909, he published several hundred of his pet peeves in Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Bierce's list includes some distinctions still familiar today--the which-that rule, less vs. fewer, lie and lay -- but it also abounds in now-forgotten shibboleths: Ovation, the critics of his time agreed, meant a Roman triumph, not a round of applause. Reliable was an ill-formed coinage, not for the discriminating. Donate was pretentious, jeopardize should be jeopard, demean meant "comport oneself," not "belittle." And Bierce made up a few peeves of his own for good measure. We should say "a coating of paint," he instructed, not "a coat."
- Classic fiction
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- Walrus Books
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