Notes From Babel

Words that Mean the Same Thing

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My wife and I had a deep conversation the other day about “lighted” versus “Lighted,” we hypothesized, might mean that something is equipped with a light, but not necessarily turned on at the moment.  Did I mentioned we were at Lowe’s when the discussion arose?  “Lit,” on the other hand, must mean actually providing illumination.  This all, of course, was triggered by the implied and infallible rule against surplusage—that two words cannot possibly share an identical meaning.  So, while we recognized that the words seem to be used interchangeably, this must be in error.

Nope.  Turns out, they’re interchangeable.  Kind of like “pled” and “pleaded.”  But there appears to be some controversy on this front.  I, for example, reserve my right to wince at the use of the non-word “pled.”

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Written by Tim Kowal

August 16, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in Language

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