Friday, February 15, 2008

Say what you mean and mean what you say

I have a friend who likes that saying “say what you mean and mean what you say,” but what if the words we use have two opposite meanings? A couple of years ago a friend corrected me when I stated that I perused something quickly. He told me the word means to study thoroughly; therefore, I could not peruse something quickly. I’ve shared that with others since then and was about to do this with my seminary professor when I decided I would confirm this definition. Here’s what I found in the Encarta Dictionary: English (North American) – this is the one that comes with Microsoft Word so you can look it up for yourself:

Peruse [pe·ruse]

1. Read something carefully - to read or examine something, usually in a careful and thorough way or taking time to do it

2. Read something quickly - to read through or scan something quickly

What?? Is this like eating your cake and having it to?

So, next time someone tells you to mean what you say and say what you mean – you can now have a meaningful discussion about the nuances of (read “how messed up is”) the English language.


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