Figure of Speech

A comment on a friend’s blog (Running For My Life) sparked this post on the quirks and inexactitudes of our language. One of Ronni’s pet peeves is “not to mention.” If you’re not going to mention it, then why did you?” she asks.


When people say, “to tell the truth,” or “let me be honest,” I find myself thinking, so, have you been lying until now?”


When I used to fly more often, I always cringed at the line used by American Airlines flight attendants, “We will be landing shortly.” I felt like screaming, “I don’t want to land shortly; I want to make it all the way to the terminal!” There’s a comforting word; just where you want your flight to end.


George Carlin loved to point out common oxymorons such as, assistant supervisor, original copy, uninvited guest, standard options, silent alarm, open secret, resident alien, friendly fire and civil war. To this list I could add a few of my own favorites: ill health, historical fiction, instant classic, military intelligence, progressive Brethren and family vacation.


How can someone be “pretty ugly” or two people be “alone together” or three people be a “small crowd?” Do you realize it’s impossible to pre-board a plane, prerecord a show or preheat an oven?


The well-turned phrase, however, carries more than its weight in wisdom; as with these self evident truths:

If you smoke after sex you’re doing it too fast.” – Woody Allen

Never raise your hands to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected.” – George Carlin

If you never try anything new, you’ll miss many of life’s great disappointments.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” – Mark Twain

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.” – Stephen Wright

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” – Andy Rooney

Feel free to add your own language peeves or favorite witticisms as comments.


2 thoughts on “Figure of Speech

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