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synonyms, though often used as such. Character means the sum of distinguishing qualities. "Actions, looks, words, steps, form the alphabet by which you may spell characters.”—Lavater. Reputation means the estimation in which one is held. One's reputation, then, is what is thought of one's character; consequently, one may have a good reputation and a bad character, or a good character and a bad reputation. Calumny may injure reputation, but not character. Sir Peter does not leave his character behind him, but his reputation_his good name.
Cheap. The dictionaries define this adjective as meaning, bearing a low price, or to be had at a low price ; but nowadays good usage makes it mean that a thing may be had, or has been sold, at a bargain. Hence, in order to make sure of being understood, it is better to say low-priced, when one means low-priced, than to use the word cheap. What is low-priced, as everybody knows, is often dear, and what is high-priced is often cheap. A diamond necklace might be cheap at ten thousand dollars, and a pinchbeck necklace dear at ten dollars.
Cherubim. The Hebrew plural of cherub. “We are authorized,” says Dr. Campbell, “ both by use and analogy, to say either cherubs and seraphs, according to the English idiom, or cherubim and seraphim, according to the Oriental. The former suits better the familiar, the latter the solemn, style. As the words cherubim and seraphim are plural, the terms cherubims and seraphims, as expressing the plural, are quite improper.”—Philosophy of Rhetoric.
Chiefly. This is one of quite a list of words that are often misplaced.
“In my last conversation with Mr. Benjamin he chiefly spoke of (spoke chiefly of] luminaries of the English bench and bar."
Ohildish. Occasionally misused for childlike, as it is in the following sentence :
“Her [Taglioni's] difficulty seems to be to keep to the floor. You have the feeling, while you gaze upon her, that if she were to rise and float away like Ariel, you would scarce be surprised ; yet all is done with such a childish unconsciousness of admiration that the delight with which she fills you is unmingled.”
Childish ways are always offensive in those that have, in years, ceased to be children.
Citizen. This word properly means, one who has certain political rights; when, therefore, it is used, as it often is, to designate persons who may be aliens, it, to say the least, betrays a want of care in the selection of words. "Several citizens were injured by the explosion.” Here some other word-persons, for example-should be used.
Olaim. Says Prof. J. S. Blackwell : “ Claim in the sense of maintain is too modern to have much authority other than that of newspaper
hacks." Says Mr. Gilbert M. Tucker, of The Cultivator and Country Gentleman : “Allow me to call your attention to one important and disgusting blunder not noted by youthe use of claim for say, assert, think, or maintain. I think this is far more frequently heard, taking the country through, than the opposite error of using allow in the same way.”
Clever. In this country the word clever is most improperly used in the sense of good-natured, well-disposed, good-hearted. It is properly used in the sense in which we are wont most inelegantly to use the word smart, though it is a less colloquial term, and is of wider application. In England the phrase " a clever man ” is the equivalent of the French phrase, un homme d'esprit.” The word is properly used in the following sentences : “Every work of
Archbishop Whately must be an object of interest to the admirers of clever reasoning”; “Cobbett's letter ... very clever, but very mischievous”; “ Bonaparte was certainly as clever a man as ever [has) lived."
Climax. A clause, a sentence, a paragraph, or any literary composition whatsoever, is said to end with a climax when, by an artistic arrangement, the more effective is made to follow the less effective in regular gradation. Any great departure from the order of ascending strength is called an anti-climax. Here are some examples of climax :
“Give all diligence; add to your faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity."
“What is every year of a wise man's life but a criticism on the past! Those whose life is the shortest live long enough to laugh at one half of it; the boy despises the infant, the man the boy, the sage both, and the Christian all.”
“What a piece of work is man ! how noble in reason ! how infinite in faculties ! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel ! in apprehension, how like a god !”
The word climax should not be used for acme. They are not even synonyms.
“Epistolary novel-writing reached the acme of its popularity with Richardson's tales." Correctly used.
“ The glories of the age of Louis XIV were the climax [acme] of a set of ideas."
“ They are not only the very climax (acme] of human evil, but the most characteristic types of French vice.”
Commence. The Britons use, or misuse, this word in a manner peculiar to themselves. They say, for example, "commenced merchant," "commenced actor," "commenced politician,” and so on. Dr. Hall tells us that commence has been employed in the sense of “begin to be," "become,” " set up as,” by first-class writers, for more than two centuries. Careful speakers make small use of commence in any sense; they prefer to use its Saxon equivalent, begin.
· The same persons,” says Godfrey Turner, “who habitually discard the word many, when they have a chance of glorying in numerous, have concurred in giving the cold shoulder to begin. I do not know a more flagrant dandyism of speech than commence to. •Directly I commence to speak every one commences to look at me,' said a mincing miss at a suburban 'At Home.' There are mincing misses of the male sex in authorship who are always commencing to. Female authors are seldom caught at this feminine weakness of phrase. The verb commence, if not followed by some other verb in the infinitive mood, may be tolerated for a change. Though it is not to be found anywhere in the Bible (imagine ‘In the commencement'!), it occurs a few times in Shakespeare ; as many as thirteen times in all, reckoning the inflections commenced, commencing, and commencement. Set this account against the number of times Shakespeare uses the word begin. I am not going to count, but I find a double row of them in Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Concordance, nearly as long as the line of Smith, John, in the Post Office London Directory, or of area railings along Wimpole Street."
Begin is opposed to end ; commence to complete : one begins a thing with a view of ending it; one commences a thing with a view of completing it. · Happiness frequently ends where prosperity begins."
“Work will be commenced to-day, and some fourteen miles of road is to be completed in two years."—N. Y. Times.
If completed is retained, commenced should also be retained ; as, however, the road may be finished and still be very incomplete, the diction would be improved by substituting beg un for commenced and finished for completed, which would probably better express the writer's thought. See BEGIN.
Comparison. When only two objects are compared, the comparative, and not the superlative, degree should be used ; thus, “ Mary is the older of the two”; “ John is the stronger of the two";“ Brown is the richer of the two, and the richest man in the city" : "Which is the more desir. able, health or wealth ?” “Which is the most desirable, health, wealth, or genius ?”
“Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?" Completed. This word is often incorrectly used for finished. That is complete that lacks nothing ; that is finished that has had all done to it that was intended. The builder of a house may finish it and yet leave it very incomplete.
Condign. It is safe to say that most persons who use this word do not know its meaning, which is, suitable, deserved, merited, proper. “ His endeavors shall not lack condign praise"-i. e., his endeavors shall not lack proper or their merited praise. · A villain condignly punished” is a villain punished according to his deserts. To use condign in the sense of severe is just as incorrect as it would be to use deserved or merited in the sense of severe.
“There was a Parliamentary surrender at discretion to stop further inquiry and [to] save the plotters, big and