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Two Language Pet Peeves

Posted by Anna on

Here are my two of my biggest language pet peeves: 

1. Anxious used in place of eager or excited.  If you’re anxious about something, you’re worried about it (ie, filled with anxiety), not happily anticipating it.

2. Enormity used to refer to something’s vast size, when it is meant to be used to refer to extreme wickedness or moral corruption.

Rob’s informed me that the ship has sailed on enormity, and I know he’s right.  When I’m editing, I’ll often change it if other wording can be easily substituted, but not always, and it’s definitely not something I’d push back on if an author felt strongly about using it.  I’m a little firmer with anxiety.

My goal in editing, typically, is to make everything as traditionally correct as possible without making the language sound stuffy or over-complicating sentences.  Every year, I get a little more relaxed about new or casual usages of language and punctuation.  But my thinking is always that people who don’t know the rules aren’t going to notice when they’re being used properly – but those who do know the rules are going to get pulled out of the story when those rules are broken.  Such as when somebody mentions that they’re ‘anxious to get their holiday started’ or refers to ‘the enormity of his generous spirit’.  That’s just weird.

On the other hand, I have zero issue with the ‘new’ use of hopefully – or most other words whose meanings have shifted over the last however-long.  But we’ve all got our own pet peeves, right?

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