Drivel Style Manual

From my lofty perch here atop Drivel HQ I pronounce these spelling and grammar rules inviolate, and command that all Drivelers de Luxe follow them to the letter. Don’t make me hold my breath until you do.

acronym

The similarities and differences between an acronym and an initialization are much the same as those between a whale and an elephant. Both are large mammals, but that’s about as far as the similarities go.

An acronym is a contraction or abbreviation that is always pronounced as a word. NASA, scuba, and fubar are acronyms.

An initialization is an abbreviation of a title or phrase using only the first letter of each word. FBI, ATM and GPS are all initializations which are also sometimes called abbreviations, but they’re not acronyms. Saying they are is like calling a whale an elephant.

add in

Addition and subtraction are simple concepts. Adding a preposition to one or subtracting a preposition from the other is equally straightforward. Please refrain from adding “in” a preposition that doesn’t belong.

agree vs. disagree

You may agree with someone, or you may disagree. If you “agree to disagree” with someone, then you are disagreeing, and you should have the fortitude to say so. Saying you “agree to disagree” doesn’t make you sound diplomatic, it makes you sound as if you don’t have any convictions at all.

Use this phrase only when quoting someone. If it doesn’t appear in quotation marks and isn’t attributed to someone, you will be required to arbitrate an agreement that disagrees with the agreed outcome.

alot vs. a lot

When “alittle” becomes widely used, then “alot” will be a word. Until then, it’s “a lot.”

flaunt vs. flout

“Flaunt” (show off) has been used more often recently to mean “flout” (break the rules), so it’s especially satisfying when someone who knows the difference uses both in the same sentence to throw shade at those who don’t: “Many COVID skeptics and otherwise reckless individuals have used social media to flaunt how they’re each flouting coronavirus guidelines”

focus on

Images are “out of focus.” They are never “focus out of,” so why would you ever say or write “focus in on?”

home in

Do you “go home,” or do you “go hone?” That’s where the phrase “home in” comes from: Pilots returning to base headed for a radio beacon they called “home.”  When you are heading toward a conclusion or otherwise finding the object of your search, you are homing in.

memento

A souvenir that reminds you of a place or time is a memento. “Momento” is alphabetic garbage hastily scribbled by someone too lazy to take notice of the squiggly red line of their spell-checker.

To remind you of the correct spelling, think of “remember.” To remind you of the incorrect spelling, think of Joan Crawford, the mom from hell whose ghost will be summoned to beat you with a fistful of wire coat hangers for using the made-up word “momento.”

oxford comma

“The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with Rudy Giuliani, a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector.”

As much as a sentence like this brings joy to our hearts, it also perfectly illustrates why we could always employ the Oxford comma.

reason

Although “reason why” has a long history of accepted use in English, it is difficult for Drivelers de Luxe to see the reason for it. The word “reason” is deemed strong enough to stand on its own without “why” dangling off its nether regions, and the convoluted redundancy of “reason why is because” is so frowned upon that our frowns resemble rictus.

unique

“Unique” means “one of a kind.” It is superlative. There is no way in heaven or on earth, Horatio, for anything to be “more unique” or “very unique.”

Monday, July 15th, 2013 at 8:23 pm CST
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