They don’t go together like a horse and carriage:

“Nowhere is the proposed rule change as emotive a topic than in Sweetwater, a town of 10,600 that swells to 35,000 during the ‘world’s largest rattlesnake roundup’ each month.”


“Emotive” is OK, I guess, though I would have said “emotional.” Yoking as and than is not OK; the words are not interchangeable. If you start out with as, you need a second as like you need a second sock. Make it “Nowhere … as emotive a topic as in Sweetwater” or “Nowhere … more emotive a topic than in Sweetwater.”

Dive! Dive!


“Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the night before and watched a ‘suspicious’ man scope out the jewelry case before walking into the sports department, where he grabbed a rain jacket and pellet gun …”

Scope out began as slang (to study, examine, for purposes of evaluation), but it’s been around so long, maybe it’s been accepted into standard usage. That happens. Young people may not know it was ever anything else. But at least one old person was surprised to see it in an otherwise straightforward newspaper account of a robbery.


Put some lotion on it:

“When she did return to court, she was an hour late with a typed-out apology. She said her consternation was inflamed because she mistakenly believed her son was in court on his shooting case.”

Most of us don’t think of degrees of consternation (“a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion, dismay”). I doubt this woman did, either. (“Your honor, my consternation is inflamed! Call the nurse!”) I’m sure the reporter is paraphrasing. Awkwardly, in this case.



All that glitters is not gold bullion:

“An anonymous donor dropped a triangular, 1-ounce gold bullion in a red kettle outside the J.C. Penney store along U.S. 65 on Thursday.” Can you drop a one-ounce gold bullion? It sounds like dropping a sterling silver. I think it has to be a gold bullion something — bar, coin, piece. I’m sure the Salvation Army was glad it wasn’t a goldbrick (“a brick made to look like gold, sold by a swindler.”) Goldbrick is also a slang term for “a person, especially a soldier, who shirks responsibility or performs duties without proper effort.”