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The title-page sufficiently sets forth the end this little book is intended to serve.

For convenience' sake I have arranged in alphabetical order the subjects treated of, and for economy's sake I have kept in mind that “ he that uses many words for the explaining of any subject doth, like the cuttle-fish, hide himself in his own ink.”

The curious inquirer who sets himself to look for the learning in the book is advised that he will best find it in such works as George P. Marsh's Lectures on the English Language, Fitz-Edward Hall's Recent Exemplifications of False Philology, and Modern English, Richard Grant White's Words and Their Uses, Edward S. Gould's Good English,



William Mathews' Words: their Use and Abuse, Dean Alford's The Queen's English, George Washington Moon's Bad English, and The Dean's English, Blank's Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech, Alexander Bain's English Composition and Rhetoric, Bain's Higher English Grammar, Bain's Composition Grammar, Quackenbos' Composition and Rhetoric, John Nichol's English Composition, William Cobbett's English Grammar, Peter Bullion's English Grammar, Goold Brown's Grammar of English Grammars, Graham's English Synonymes, Bigelow's Hand-book of Punctuation, and other kindred works.

Suggestions and criticisms are solicited, with the view of profiting by them in future editions.

If The Verbalist receive as kindly a welcome as its companion volume, The Orthoëpist, has received, I shall be content.

A. A. New YORK, October, 1881.

Eschew fine words as you would rouge.-HARE.

Cant is properly a double-distilled lie; the second power of a lie.-CARLYLE.

If a gentleman be to study any language, it ought to be that of his own country.-LOCKE.

In language the unknown is generally taken for the magnificent.-RICHARD GRANT WHITE.

He who has a superlative for everything, wants a measure for the great or small.—LAVATER.

Inaccurate writing is generally the expression of inaccurate thinking.-RICHARD GRANT WHITE.


To acquire a few tongues is the labor of a few years; but to be eloquent in one is the labor of a life.--ANONYMOUS.

Words and thoughts are so inseparably connected that an artist in words is necessarily an artist in thoughts.WILSON,

It is an invariable maxim that words which add nothing to the sense or to the clearess must diminish the force of the expression.-CAMPBELL.

Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas.-MACAULAY.



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A. Errors are not infrequently made by omitting to repeat the article in a sentence. It should always be repeated before an adjective that qualifies a distinct thing. “ He has a black and white horse.” If two horses is meant, it is clear that it should be, “He has a black and a white one.”

“The creed supposes the coexistence of a benevolent and [a] malevolent principle.” A principle can not be at once benevolent and malevolent.

Something is said of the speculative doubts and difficulties through which he won his way to a more settled and [a] happier frame of mind." The repetition here is not imperative; it is simply a question of euphony.

Sometimes pleonastic :

“No stronger and stranger a figure than his is described in our modern history of England.” Not only is the a here superfluous, but the sentence is otherwise most clumsily constructed. It is bettered thus: “No figure stronger and stranger than his is described,” etc.; or, “No figure is described in our modern history of England stronger and stranger than his."

Ability-Capacity. The distinctions between these two words are not always observed by those who use them. “Capacity is the power of receiving and retaining knowledge with facility ; ability is the power of applying knowl.



edge to practical purposes. Both these faculties are requisite to form a great character: capacity to conceive, and ability to execute designs. Capacity is shown in quickness of apprehension. Ability supposes something done ; something by which the mental power is exercised in executing, or performing, what has been perceived by the capacity." Graham's English Synonymes.

Abortive. An outlandish use of this word may be occasionally met with, especially in the newspapers. “ A lad was yesterday caught in the act of abortively appropriating a pair of shoes." That is abortive that is un. timely, that has not been borne its full time, that is immature. We often hear abortion used in the sense of failure, but never by those who study to express themselves in chaste English.

Above. There is little authority for using this word as an adjective or as a noun. Such expressions as

the above statement" or "it seems from the above" are not sanctioned by careful writers. It is better to say, “the foregoing or preceding statement, or paragraph.” Such expressions as the above-mentioned, the above referred to, and the above related are perhaps permissible, but the diction would be bettered by using already instead of above.

Above is also used inelegantly for more than; as, “above a mile," "above a thousand"; also inelegantly used for beyond; as, “above his strength."

“The floor of it was not much above (more than) a hundred feet across."—Hammond.

Accept of. We are not without authority for the locution accept of, nevertheless the of is unnecessary, no matter what sense the verb is used in. We accept presents, not accept of them.

Accident. See CASUALTY.

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