Book

The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

Bryan A. Garner

Published in print January 2000 | ISBN: 9780195135084
Published online January 2002 | e-ISBN: 9780199891245 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acref/9780195135084.001.0001
The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

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a.

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 380 words.

Choice Between a and an.

The indefinite article a is used before words beginning with a consonant sound, including

abandon n.

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 105 words.

The usual idiom is wild abandon or reckless abandon (= unrestrained impulsiveness), not abandonment (= the giving up of something).

abbreviations

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 1120 words.

Acronyms and Initialisms.

Five points merit our attention here. First, we should be aware of the difference between the two

abdomen

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 15 words.

is most commonly pronounced /ab-də-mən/, though some people continue to use the old-fashioned /ab-doh-mən/.

ability

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 63 words.

The traditional distinction is that while ability is qualitative, capacity is quantitative. Hence, ability refers to a person's power of

abjure

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 84 words.

Senses Distinguished.

Abjure may mean either (1) “to renounce” <Germany abjured the use of force>, or (2) “to avoid” <her

-able

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 662 words.

Choice of -able or -ible.

Many adjectives have competing forms ending in -able and -ible.

abortive

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 94 words.

Abortive may mean (1) “unsuccessful because cut short,” or (2) “inchoate.” With sense 1, it takes on the figurative sense

about

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 223 words.

And approximately.

When possible, use about instead of approximately, a formal word. But about shouldn't appear, as

above

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 303 words.

Meaning “more than” or “longer than.”

Restrict this usage to informal contexts. “Above [read More than] 600 people

absolutely

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 47 words.

in the sense “really” or “very much,” is often a meaningless intensive. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself is

abstractitis

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 710 words.

“How vile a thing … is the abstract noun! It wraps a man's thoughts round like cotton wool” (Arthur

accede

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 121 words.

Accede, v.i., = (1) “to agree or consent”; (2) “to come into office or a position of stature”;

accent marks

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 5 words.

access

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 54 words.

Access (= a means of reaching or getting in) is sometimes confused with excess (= [1] an overabundance, superfluity; or

access vb.

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 176 words.

Generally.

As a verb, access has its origins in computerese. Like a number of nouns turned into verbs (e.g.,

accessory n.

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 81 words.

And accessary,

n. Accessory now predominates in AmE and BrE in meaning both “abettor” and “a thing of lesser importance.”

accompanist

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 42 words.

is the standard form, not accompanyist (falsely formed from accompany)—e.g.: “Paxton was in wonderful form, and accompanyist [read accompanist

accounting

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 3 words.

accuse

Bryan A. Garner.

in The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style

January 2000; p ublished online January 2002 .

Reference Entry. Subjects: Language Reference. 57 words.

One is accused of, but charged with, a crime. Perhaps under the influence of charged with, the