I tend to be a wordsmith. That being the times when I actually tend to work with words. Lately, I haven’t felt the inspiration to write or as Mr. Brian O’Bannion would put it, “court the muse.”
My parent’s are wordsmiths and I still have a handy little book that my father gave me while in the third grade entitled, 30,000 Words. No definitions. Just 30,000 Words and the syllabication or pronunciations. It was in this book that I learned the word impetuous.
One day on the way home from school my mother put the back window down on the Vista Cruiser station wagon and asked me to climb out and grab the mail from the box. I had only reached into the mailbox when she suddenly lurched forward causing me to lose my balance. I yelled out, “Stop the car, you impetuous thing!” She found it amusing while I was furious. I wanted to know why she was laughing at what was to me a very dangerous situation. It turned out that what she found amusing was the fact that I had almost used the word impetuous correctly.
This brings me to today. I hate it when obviously knowing people use words incorrectly. I have a few pet peeves, pacifically when they mean specifically or satistic when they mean statistic, etc. I assume they are unable to pronounce the mouthful of letters correctly in a short time. A common mistake but used incorrectly over a period of time I assume they just don’t know the difference. Maybe their parents used the words incorrectly and it has just been stuck as the default.
I assumed it was just one of those things where the spoken word morphs into the actual word and before you know it that word becomes the official definition in the dictionary. I counted on the autocorrect function of my word processor to find the mistake. To my surprise, Supposedly and Supposably were both real words. WHAT? I reached for the little 30,000 Words book and found it to be true. How can this be? I thought it was some local verbal virus working its way through the population. I googled the words with the dubious suspicion that you get when looking up something on Wikipedia and found that supposably means, “it is possible to suppose.” Whereas supposedly means, “according to what is generally assumed or believed.
In almost every case the person using the word supposably would have meant to use the word supposedly if they only knew the difference. I wince and carry on then sometimes laugh because they almost got it right.