This idiom is up there with “for all intents and purposes” (not “intensive purposes”), “hunger pangs” (not “pains”), and “exacting” (not “extracting”) revenge for how often it is confused by writers and speakers alike.
Reminder: “Every once in a while” is the proper form of this expression—not “every once and a while,” not “every once in awhile.”
Every once in a while, I seem to notice a certain mistake all over the place.
Every once in a while, I can be polite and not point an accusatory red pen at the offenders.
Every once in a while, I need new red pens because I tend to run them dry.
We’ve already discussed the differences between “awhile” and “a while,” but this expression needed a note of its own. Are you writing it correctly?
If you have a belief that is held deep in your core, it is “deep-seated”—as in seated deeply within your heart. (Note, there’s a hyphen present since these two words are combining to become an adjective.)
You don’t want to bury your seeds too deeply or they won’t grow. The same goes for this idiom. No more deep seeding, everyone. “Deep-seated” is the way to go.
Hint: if you’re talking to a writer or editor, even on social media, try hard to get this phrase right. Heck, if you’re talking to anyone, it’s worth knowing the difference.
If you couldn’t care less about something, that means that you already care so little about the subject that it’s impossible for you to be interested in it even less than you already are. I couldn’t care less about calculus. Or glittering vampires. Or most forms of reality tv. (Sorry, but it’s true).
If you could care less about something, then that means that you do indeed care about it. You maybe aren’t singing it from the rooftops, but there’s room for less interest. And maybe you are singing it from the rooftops; that’s possible too.
This is a writing and speaking tip really. I have faith you can get it right. I’d say I couldn’t care less if you do, but I just do. I really, really do.
Is the expression Biblical in origin? Abbreviated? Scientific? I have seen all three forms of this one written, and I could almost see a logical argument for each version; however, only one is correct.
To clear up the confusion, “up and at ‘em” is the proper form, as in “up and at them.” The colloquial idiom means, in essence, “it’s time to get moving.” It has nothing to do with Adam’s existence in or out of Eden, and it has nothing to do with quantum physics. More
If you were a magical being and you were to “extract revenge” from some cauldron of calamity, maybe you’d be using your words correctly. However, for most writers plotting vengeance for their characters (or themselves?), the proper idiom is “to exact revenge.”
***insert menacing music here***
Revenge is a delicate subject. I could see how handling it properly seems like something you might do with a pipette and a beaker, but that’s just not the case.
To “exact revenge” calls back upon an old usage of the word “exact,” specifically to both demand and obtain, most commonly by force. Yikes. A bit more intimidating than pipettes, right?
One could exact payment, exact change, exact meaning, or exact justice. There are many things to exact, when you begin thinking of this word as a verb. It’s all a matter of being exact with your usages of exact. Are you ready to get this exactly right?
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The proper phrase is “hunger pangs.” What is a “pang” you ask? Why a brief feeling of emotional or physical pain, of course. Confusing? Absolutely.
The muddle over the “hunger pangs” vs. “hunger pains” is understandable, but when there’s a correct answer, you’ve got to go with it.
You might have back pains, growing pains, or pains in the neck, but you don’t have “hunger pains.” Unless there’s major malnourishment involved, “pang” is the word you need.
Happy writing and bon appetit!
He was Henry the eighth, he was. Henry the eighth, he was, he was.
Did you know that the origin of this tricky idiom goes back to a single member of English royalty? Henry VIII is the one for whom you can blame this phrase. Its first recorded use appears to be a 1539 proclamation of parliament. And yes, it was written “for all intents and purposes,” not “intensive purposes.” As you know, it means “for all practical reasons” or simply “in effect.”
If you were first introduced to this phrase in spoken English rather than written English, I can understand the confusion, but be sure not to sound silly if you use the expression yourself. For all intents and purposes, “intents and purposes” is the way to go.