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Vocabulary Quiz #12: Commonly Confused Words

Vocabulary Quiz #12: Commonly Confused Words

In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.)

1. If we rise early enough, we can be ______ down the road by noon.
a) farther
b) further

2. Is there anyone ______ me, who wants to volunteer for the flower committee?
a) besides
b) beside

3. If the committee meets _______ , they will only meet six times a year.
a) semimonthly
b) bimonthly

4. Are you able to ______ an authority for such an outlandish statement?
a) cite
b) site

5. All six members who ______ the school board are parents.
a) comprise
b) compose

Answers and Explanations

1. If we rise early enough, we can be farther down the road by noon.
a) farther

Farther always refers to distance. Further may refer to distance, but is the only choice for the meaning “to a greater extent or degree.” Example: The teacher will go further into the explanation in tomorrow’s lesson.

2. Is there anyone besides me, who wants to volunteer for the flower committee?
a) besides

Besides means “in addition to.” Beside means “next to.” Example: Would you like to sit beside me?

3. If the committee meets bimonthly , they will only meet six times a year.
b) bimonthly

Bimonthly means “every other month.” Semimonthly means “twice a month.”

4. Are you able to cite an authority for such an outlandish statement?
a) cite

Cite is a verb that has more than one meaning. In the context of this sentence, cite means “to quote an authority.” As a verb, site means “to locate.” Example: The factory will be sited within the industrial park. As a noun, site means “a place or location.” Example: I’m sure you can find the information you want on a web site.

5. All six members who compose the school board are parents.
b) compose

Compose means “to make up, to be the material of which something is assembled.” Comprise means “to bring together, to include, to contain.” This pair of words is often confused, because both share another definition, “to consist of.” Use comprise when the “whole” of which you are speaking comes first. Use compose when the separate parts are mentioned first.

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When Jargon Fails

When Jargon Fails

Jargon has its purposes. In content pertaining to popular culture, when employing slang to engage readers and other consumers of entertaining information, concise and/or colorful slang enlivens the experience. But in writing about business and technology, jargon can encumber rather than enhance comprehension, and writers should take care to use it judiciously.

Consider this sentence: “What ‘black boxes’ for validation and/or testing exist in the organization?”

This sentence has a couple of problems. First, why is “black boxes” enclosed in quotation marks? Evidently, the writer erroneously believes that doing so helps signal to the reader that the phrase “black boxes” is jargon being used figuratively; unless you’re referring to those little plastic cubes that hold paper clips, no object that can be described as an actual black box exists in the organization, and these marks supposedly serve as a disclaimer. But quotation marks are superfluous for this purpose; they are useful for calling out ironic or specious wording, like pacification in the context of war, but not for emphasizing metaphoric usage of words and phrases.

Furthermore, however, is the phrase even useful? Think about various examples of figurative jargon employed in business contexts: Talk about planting a seed, or restraining a loose cannon, or starting over with a clean slate, and colleagues will know what you’re talking about—it’s clear from the context that gardening, artillery, and chalkboards are not under discussion. But what is a black box? The term alludes here to a device—which is no longer black nor shaped like a box—used in aircraft to make an audio recording of the actions taking place in the cockpit during flight; a black box can be retrieved from a plane after a crash to determine the cause of the accident.

This is a pertinent metaphor for a mechanism for documenting validation and/or testing of organizational processes or systems, but because “black box,” though familiar to readers, is not as transparent in meaning as many other examples of figurative jargon, the reader will have to pause and analyze the analogy, which distracts from the reading experience.

Would it be helpful to provide a gloss, or a brief definition of the jargon? That would be useful if the entire article were about a documentation mechanism. But in the context from which the sentence about black boxes was extracted, it is simply a passing reference, and defining the phrase would be merely a further distraction. In this case, the best solution is to replace the jargon with a phrase that clearly expresses the intended idea: “What mechanisms for documenting validation and/or testing exist in the organization?”

When writing or editing in any context, evaluate whether jargon or other slang serves communication or itself (or, worse yet, the writer’s ego), and retain or revise accordingly.

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3 Types of Sentence Errors Resulting from Missing Articles

3 Types of Sentence Errors Resulting from Missing Articles

In each of the following sentences, lack of an article (a, and, or the) results in a grammatically flawed sentence. Discussion after each example, followed by a revision, identifies the problem.

1. In 2006, The Simpsons television show paid tribute to the 1974 Oakland A’s in an episode.

The first instance of the article the, as an element of a composition title, cannot do double duty as an article that performs a grammatical function in the sentence, and the statement must be revised so that it includes such an article: “In 2006, an episode of the television show The Simpsons paid tribute to the 1974 Oakland A’s.” (However, if “television show” were omitted from the original sentence, no further revision would be necessary.)

2. During our discussion, we’ll hear insights from a chief financial officer, investment banker, and others.

“Chief financial officer” requires the article that precedes it, while the plural pronoun others does not need one. But “investment banker” is left in the lurch; it cannot share the article that precedes the first item in the list: “During our discussion, we’ll hear insights from a chief financial officer, an investment banker, and others.” (Even if a specific designation were to replace others, an article would have to precede each item: “During our discussion, we’ll hear insights from a chief financial officer, investment banker, and chief risk officer” implies that one person with three roles, rather than three people who each have one role, is being identified.)

3. Live Nation bought a majority stake in Austin City Limits Music Festival, Bonnaroo, BottleRock, Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, and Electric Daisy Carnival.

Here, some of the listed event names do not require an article, but those that end with a word describing a type of event do: “Live Nation bought a majority stake in the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Bonnaroo, BottleRock, Lollapalooza, the Governors Ball, and the Electric Daisy Carnival.”

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A Capitalization Cheat Sheet

A Capitalization Cheat Sheet

Capitalization is a bewilderingly complex issue, with many rules and exceptions. This post outlines the basic, most common guidelines for capitalization, with examples.

Academic degrees: Lowercase—“bachelor’s degree”; capitalize entirety of most abbreviations (with a few exceptions, including PhD and DLitt)

Academic disciplines: Capitalize only proper names—“Asian studies” (except as part of a full name of an entity (“the School of Business,” “the Department of Philosophy,” “the Commission on the Liberal Arts,” etc.)

Acronyms and initialisms: Capitalize most abbreviations of proper names—NATO, FBI (but some style guides and writing handbooks call for using initial capitalization only for extensive and established acronyms, as with Nasdaq); most abbreviations for units of measurement are not capitalized, but check a dictionary or style guide for exceptions

Animal names: Lowercase terms except in the case of proper names—“African elephant,” “Steller’s jay” (do the same for animal breeds, as in “Labrador retriever,” though specialized publications often capitalize all words in breed names); capitalize first word in binomial and trinomial nomenclature (“Homo sapiens,” “Gorilla gorilla gorilla”), but differentiate between nomenclature and popular name (“Pinus ponderosa,” but “ponderosa pine”)

Astronomical terms: Capitalize most names of specific bodies and collections of bodies—“the Milky Way,” but “the solar system”; capitalize Earth (and Moon and Sun) in astronomical references but lowercase in terrestrial or figurative contexts—“The third planet is Earth,” but “The earth is flat” (do not capitalize earth when the word is preceded by the) and “Where on earth is he?” (and “The sun is about to rise” and “The moon is full”)

Brand names and trademarks: Follow capitalization as used by the brand owner, but ignore logo format—for example, the brand names Lego and Time (the magazine) are treated as all-caps in the respective company logos; companies discourage genericization of trademarks such as kleenex and xerox, but writers have no obligation to honor such usage as “Kleenex Brand Facial Tissue”

Color terms for ethnic identification: Lowercase unless a company or publication prefers otherwise—“black man,” “white people”

Compass points: Generally lowercase, but capitalize in geopolitical contexts—“the Pacific Northwest,” “customs prevalent in the East”)

Cultural terms: Look up specific terms, as treatment varies widely—“art deco,” but Beaux-Arts

Emphasis: Capitalize only in ironic contexts—“He was apparently a Big Man on Campus”; do not capitalize entire words, except perhaps to denote a newspaper headline or signage (and then, small caps are recommended)

Epithets: Capitalize key words—“Alfred the Great,” “Babe Ruth,” “Michael ‘Air’ Jordan,” “the Windy City,” “Big Pharma”

File formats: The Chicago Manual of Style recommends capitalizing names of formats, but do so only in such usage as “I made a GIF from the video,” and lowercase (and precede with a dot) in references to files such as “The latest version of Microsoft Word uses the file extension .docx”

Foreign terms: German capitalizes all nouns, but lowercase German words adopted into English—hausfrau, schadenfreude, weltanschauung (if it’s in the dictionary, it’s English)

Generations: Lowercase except in the case of initials or other single letters—“baby boomers,” “generation X”

Geographical names: Capitalize in proper names, but lowercase in generic usage—“the Mississippi River,” but “the river”; check style guides for variations such as “the Pacific coast”/“the West Coast”; lowercase metaphorical and nonliteral use of proper names—“manila envelope,” “They set out to create a utopia”

Historical terms: Look up specific terms, as treatment varies widely—“the colonial period,” but “the Gilded Age”

Honorifics: Capitalize key words—“the First Lady,” “Your Honor” (but “Yes, my lord”)

Key commands: Capitalize words denoting switch, keyboard, and command functions—“the Pause button,” “the Command key,” “the Save command,” etc.

Kinship names: Capitalize only in direct address or in place of or in combination with a name—“Yes, Mother,” “We’re going to Grandmother’s house,” “Uncle Joe” (but “my uncle Joe”)

Laws, theories, and the like: Capitalize only proper names—“Newton’s third law,” “the Pythagorean theorem”

Letters as letters: Capitalize only if the letter is specified as an uppercase letter—“a capital C” (exception: letter grades, as in “She earned four As”)

Letters as shapes or musical notes, or points, concepts, or hypothetical names: Capitalize—“a V-shaped symbol,” “from point A to point B,” etc. (exception, lowercase—but italicize—letters in rhyming schemes, as in “an abab pattern”)

Medical conditions: Capitalize only proper names—“Alzheimer’s disease,” but “muscular dystrophy”
Natural events and phenomena: Capitalize names of storms but otherwise lowercase generic words—“Hurricane Harvey,” but “the San Francisco earthquake”

Organizational entities: Capitalize in proper names, but lowercase in generic usage—“the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” but “the bureau”—and “the federal government”); lowercase generic versions of entity names—“the company,” “the museum,” “the committee,” etc.; lowercase the preceding entities’ names (unless house style allows exceptions)

People’s names: Capitalize names of real and fictional people, but lowercase figurative usage—“Jack Nicholson,” “Jack Sprat,” but “every man jack”; capitalize personifications—“Mother Nature,” “Ol’ Man River”

Prefixes for proper names: Look up specific terms, as treatment varies—pre-Columbian, but transatlantic

Seasons: Lowercase—winter, spring, summer, fall

Titles of compositions: Capitalize key words—“Pride and Prejudice” (check a style guide for specifics)

Titles of jobs and offices: Capitalize key words before the name (except when modified) and lowercase after the name or in isolation—“Director of Marketing John Smith,” “Pastor Jane Jones” (but “former director of marketing John Smith,” “John Smith, director of marketing,” and “the director of marketing,” as well as “the pastor”); capitalize in direct address (“As you were, Sergeant”) or in formal written contexts or in a ceremonial or promotional list

Titles of nobility: Capitalize before names and when using full title in isolation—“There’s Prince Charles,” “the Duke of Windsor” (but “the duke”)

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15+ Words with “syn” or a Variation

15+ Words with “syn” or a Variation

The Greek prefix syn-, meaning “together,” and two alternative forms combine with many other word elements to form terms pertaining to community or unity. This post lists and briefly defines the most common of these words, along with literal definitions of the root word.

1. idiosyncrasy (“personal” and “blend”): a peculiarity or hypersensitivity
2. synagogue (“bring”): a Jewish congregation, or its headquarters
3. synapse (“fasten”): the junction of nervous impulses
4. synchronicity (“timing”): occurrence of events at the same time or same period, or coincidental occurrence of events
5. syncopation (“shortening”): musical rhythm that emphasizes the weak beat
6. syncretism (“federation of Cretan cities”): a combination of different forms
7. syndication (“act of judgment”): association of people or entities to sell something, or selling editorial content to multiple distributors or the state of being sold this way
8. syndrome (“run”): a set of things, such as signs or symptoms of a medical condition, that form a pattern
9. synecdoche (“interpret”): figure of speech substituting the part for the whole, or vice versa
10. synergy (“working”): combined action
11. synesthesia (“sense”): a sensation occurring with another, or a condition in which one experiences one sensation simultaneously with another
12. synonym (“name”): a word with one or more meanings identical or similar to one or more meanings of one or more words, or a word or phrase that embodies a concept or quality
13. synopsis (“be going to see”): an abstract or summary
14. syntax (“arrange”): the structure of linguistic elements, or harmonious arrangement of components
15. synthesis (“put”): something made by combining parts into a whole, digital reproduction of analog sounds, or deductive reasoning

When the prefix precedes b, m, or p, it is converted to sym, as in asymptote (“not falling”), symbiosis (“living”), symbol (“thrown”), symmetry (“measured”), sympathy (“feeling”), symphony (“sounding”), symposium (“drinking,” from the ancient Greek custom of discussing intellectual matters while drinking wine in a social setting), and symptom (“happening”), and when confronted with l, it changes to syl, as in syllable (“take”)— the similar-looking syllabus, derived from a misreading, is unrelated—and syllogism (“think”).

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Vocabulary Quiz #11: Diction

Vocabulary Quiz #11: Diction

Diction is word choice. A word that is suitable in conversation or informal writing may lower the tone of writing intended for a general audience. Assuming that all of the following sentences are intended to be heard or read by a large general audience, choose the more appropriate word for each sentence.

1. The CEO visited the company’s factory in Cleveland for the purpose of ______ the proposed policy to allow parents with children to share one job.
a) promoting
b) touting

2. The senator said that something must be done for the single ______ who are unable to feed their children nutritious meals.
a) moms
b) mothers

3. Investigating the attack, police discovered that the vandalism was the work of a gang of ______ .
a) kids
b) seventeen-year-olds

4. Following the burglary, the perpetrator _________ .
a) fled the scene
b) took it on the lam

5. News just in: King Ludwig of Transylvania ________ at 3:20 a.m.
a) passed away
b) died

Answers and Explanations

1. The CEO visited the company’s factory in Cleveland for the purpose of promoting the proposed policy to allow parents with children to share one job.
a) promoting

The verb tout began as thieve’s cant for “to act as a lookout.” As a noun, a tout in racetrack parlance is a person who offers tips as to which horse is likely to win. Because of its less than respectable connotations, tout is not as neutral a term as promote.

2. The senator said that something must be done for the single mothers who are unable to feed their children nutritious meals.
b) mothers

The word mom, while not exactly slang, is a term of intimacy that is inappropriate to use as a generic term for mother. Even the word mother, although the general term for a woman who has borne a child, carries emotional overtones. The word woman might be an even better choice when a neutral tone is desired.

3. Investigating the attack, police discovered that the vandalism was the work of a gang of seventeen-year-olds.
b) seventeen-year-olds

The word kids is used in so many contexts to refer to so many age groups that it lacks precision. Parents call their children of any age “kids” as a term of affection, but in other contexts, kid may be intended as a pejorative term. Ex: He doesn’t know anything; he’s just a kid. Other possible replacements for kid, depending upon the age group meant: child, youth, teenager, adolescent.

4. Following the burglary, the perpetrator fled the scene.
a) fled the scene

The usual term for the act of running away from danger is to flee. Residents flee a burning building. Campers flee an attacking bear. “To take it on the lam” is a slang expression usually applied to the act of fleeing the police.

5. News just in: King Ludwig of Transylvania died at 3:20 a.m.
b) died

Passed away is a euphemism intended to obscure the starkness of death. In reporting the news, the most direct word is usually best.

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3 Common Types of Phrasal-Adjective Hyphenation Errors

3 Common Types of Phrasal-Adjective Hyphenation Errors

One of the most ubiquitous categories of error in written composition is failure to provide a visual clue to readers that two or more words preceding a noun are temporarily functioning as a single unit of information. After each of the sentences below, a discussion explains one of several types of such mistakes, and revisions demonstrate correct usage.

1. This new work will represent one of the highest profile projects.

The basic phrasal adjective consist of two words combined to modify a noun, and the basic error in the use of phrasal adjectives is to omit a hyphen, which is often (but not always) necessary: “This new work will represent one of the highest-profile projects.” (Exceptions include terms listed in the dictionary as open permanent compounds, such as “income tax.”)

2. The agency recommends removal of the four-business day limit.

Another type of hyphenation error with phrasal adjectives is hyphenating only the first and second words in a three-word string that modifies a noun. Here, the sentence is revised to reflect that the reference is to a limit of four business days, not a day limit of four businesses: “The agency recommends removal of the four-business-day limit.”

3. This guide includes a special supplement on the first of its kind regulation requiring certification and screening programs.

Errors also occur when a writer fails to acknowledge that an entire phrase—which, like other phrasal adjectives, needs no hyphenation in isolation (For example, in “This regulation is the first of its kind”)—requires the connective symbols in before-the-noun mode: “This guide includes a special supplement on the first-of-its-kind regulation requiring certification and screening programs.”

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Who Determines Language Standards?

Who Determines Language Standards?

My recent post about declining writing standards garnered some thoughtful comments from site visitors, but as I read them I realized that the post had not addressed one cogent point: As one reader put it, “Who or what determines if a standard is indeed prevailing, or is on the way out?”

In the sciences and social sciences, the latest studies and reports, codifying more or less of a consensus on current knowledge, are published in journals and books for dissemination within professional and academic communities. In a similar fashion, dictionaries, encyclopedias, style guides, and writing handbooks serve as a body of knowledge for writers and editors to draw on. But writers must recognize the functions these secondary sources do and do not serve.

Dictionaries are sources of record for current usage. They demonstrate how to spell and pronounce terms, which part(s) of speech the terms represent, the various inflected forms a term may take, and each term’s definitions (often annotated with usage examples), as well as etymological information. However, dictionaries are in general descriptive, not prescriptive: They record how terms are used, not how they should be used, although some dictionaries will include in various entries a note explaining that a certain usage may be considered substandard or incorrect. Dictionaries, however, do not serve as authorities on syntax, style, and punctuation (except regarding capitalization of proper nouns and, as far as the latter subject is concerned, in the case of hyphenation).

Similarly, encyclopedias summarize current knowledge about topics, which may be helpful in defining a term or at least in employing it properly in the context of a piece of content in which the topic is mentioned. But encyclopedias do not provide guidance on grammar, syntax, style, and punctuation (with the exceptions mentioned for dictionaries above).

Style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style (the leading resource for book publishers) and the Associated Press Style Book (the primary authority for newspapers) aid writers and editors in questions of capitalization and abbreviation, and use of punctuation, numbers, and symbols, while the former also (starting a few editions back) provides assistance on grammar—and exhaustive detail about bibliographies, references, and other components of scholarly publications. Garner’s Modern American Usage, meanwhile, painstakingly prescribes how words and phrases should and should not be employed, while numerous writing and editing handbooks provide further advice about how to compose exemplary content.

But from where do the publishers of these resources derive their authority? Thumb through Bryan A. Garner’s tome, or browse a good dictionary (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and its online counterpart are exemplars), and you’ll see citations of examples from literature and periodicals. Admittedly, the author or authors select the source material (and in the case of Garner, he often reproduces an excerpt from a publication only to correct it), but reference works strive to preserve a continuity of correctness: What was well-crafted prose yesterday is well-crafted prose today and will be well-crafted prose tomorrow, as long as writers and editors have a common store of references.

That is not so say, however, that these references are static. All such publications are revised, or supplanted by similar resources, as points of usage, grammar, and so on reach a tipping point in evolution. But that’s why I consult the sixteenth edition of Chicago, not the thirteenth, which was current when I began my career in publishing, or Amy Einsohn’s Copyeditor’s Handbook, originally conceived as a companion to (and a more accessible alternative to) Chicago.

As I mentioned in my previous post, devotion to a bookshelf (or bookmark menu) full of references is a conservative approach. But the English language, and the ends of the means—communication—are well served by making this protected trove of information and knowledge available. The existence of authoritative resources does not prohibit use of nonstandard language, but it guides writers toward successful self-expression based on a set of rules potentially known to all, if they accept the responsibility of adhering to them.

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3 More Types of “Not Only . . . but Also” Errors

3 More Types of “Not Only . . . but Also” Errors

Errors of faulty parallelism in sentences in which “not only” and “but also” help delineate complementary phrases come in three general categories, as shown, explained, and corrected below.

1. This problem not only relates to accessibility but also to completeness, accuracy, and validity of the data.

In a simple sentence employing “not only” and “but also,” a verb that applies to both phrases must precede “not only”: “This problem relates not only to accessibility but also to completeness, accuracy, and validity of the data.” (Otherwise, the assumption is that a verb distinct from the one following “not only” will appear after “not also” in parallel to the first one, as in “This problem not only relates to accessibility but also applies to completeness, accuracy, and validity of the data.”)

2. This step presents not only a technical change, but introduces risks associated with migrating to the cloud.

In this example, parallel verbs should follow the respective setup phrases “not only” and “but also”: “This step not only presents a technical change but also introduces risks associated with migrating to the cloud.” (Note, too, the deletion of the comma and the introduction of also.)

3. In this way, the courts have been central, not only to the preservation of American freedom, but also to its expansion.

In “not only . . . but also” constructions, a comma is often inserted before “but also” (or before but alone when also is not included, as in the example above), but the punctuation mark is unnecessary because what follows it is not an independent clause or a parenthetical phrase. Here, the first comma is correct, the second one (assuming the third is omitted) is defensible for emphasis but is extraneous, and the third is a mistake, as explained in the first sentence in this discussion: “In this way, the courts have been central not only to the preservation of American freedom but also to its expansion.”

Furthermore, the appearance of the second and third commas together is a double error; the inclusion of this pair of punctuation marks erroneously implies that what is contained within is parenthetical. (To test for the validity of the punctuation, view the sentence without the intervening phrase: “In this way, the courts have been central but also to its expansion” is ungrammatical, so the commas are incorrect.)

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The ‘Cross” Family of Words

The ‘Cross” Family of Words

Cross, a word with a great variety of meanings, is also at the head of an extensive family of words, some of which are listed and defined in this post.

Cross made its way into English circuitously from the Latin word crux, with stops in Old Irish and Old Norse. It originally referred to a post with a crossbeam on which condemned prisoners were hung to be executed. By its association with the execution of Jesus in such circumstances, it became a symbol of Christianity, not only as a t-shaped object but also as a series of gestures that collectively suggest the shape of the cross and are intended to convey an appeal to Jesus Christ for a blessing.

Capitalized, the word refers to the specific cross on which the execution took place; in this way, it is also a metonym for the Christian religion. (A metonym is a figure of speech in which a detail associated with an entity or an idea represents the entire entity or idea.) Metaphorically, in the phrase “cross to bear,” the word also suggests a personal trial, evoking the story that Jesus was forced to drag his cross over his shoulder to the site of his execution.

Cross also refers to any similarly shaped object or sign or to an x used as a signature. The word also denotes an act of hybridizing, or crossbreeding, living things or an animal that is a result of hybridization, as well as an intersection, a boxing punch, or a diagonal or lateral pass in soccer or any similar activity, as in a movement onstage during a theatrical performance. The word also pertains to an opposing or thwarting of an intention or to a dishonest or fraudulent contest or practice.

Verb and adjectival forms apply to these definitions as well, and the adjective across means “over,” “through,” or “on the opposite side of,” as well as “throughout,” and pertains to intersecting or passing through at an angle. (Across is also an adverb, as in “Walk across the field.”)

A crusade was originally a military expedition undertaken to assert political and religious control over the region of the Middle East associated with early Christianity; the series of such efforts that occurred during the Middle Ages is referred to as the Crusades. By extension, a crusade is any enthusiastic enterprise.

The noun crucifixion, as well as the verb crucify, refers to execution on a cross; the verb also refers metaphorically to ridiculing, scorning, or tormenting someone in the public arena.

Cruciform means “cross shaped,” a crucifer is a person who carries a cross in a religious procession or one of a family of edible plants (and a crozier is a symbolic shepherd’s crook carried by certain Christian clerics); cruciferous describes a specimen in the latter category. A cruciverbalist, meanwhile, is a preparer of crossword puzzles.

Other words stemming from crux include the use of the Latin term in English to refer to a difficult or unsolved problem or an essential point or main feature; the resulting adjective crucial means “decisive” or “significant,” and excruciating is an adjective meaning “agonizing” or “extreme” and refers usually to pain but sometimes to psychologically uncomfortable situations or to unpleasant emotions such as boredom.

As seen in a couple examples above, cross is also employed as the first element in a compound word. Other examples include crosswalk and crosswind; most of these are treated as closed compounds, but there are exceptions, including cross-eye and cross-stitch. Occasionally, cross is the second element, as in double-cross.

Crucible appears to be related but is not; it derives from the Latin term crucibulum, referring to an earthen pot in which metals are melted. That function, and perhaps the resemblance to words stemming from crux that begin with the element cruc-, led to the connotation of a test or trial or a situation in which significant change occurs.

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Original post: The ‘Cross” Family of Words

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