30-Second Word Whoop: “Loath” to “Breathe”

SVG Version of Image:Pac_Man.png

Something’s eeeeeeeeating away at me. Image via Wikipedia

The prefix “e” — shorthand for “electronic” — exercises eminent domain in digitizing common English words:
e-mail, e-book, e-ticket, e-commerce. Like Pac-Man, it chomps through unnecessary syllables to create perfectly understandable fad words like “e-zine” and “e-vite.”

Amid this e-English racket, I want to give voice to the silent e, which has been around forever, a caboose working hard to make distinctions that are increasingly ignored by our e-audience.

It couldn’t be easier to remember the difference between, i.e., “breath” and “breathe,” or “loath” and “loathe,” yet I see these egregious errors daily. Pay attention; not gonna say it twice.

In these examples, the words ending in “e” are verbs. The others aren’t. You breathe breaths. “Breath” is the noun. Think of holding your breath, and please withhold the e.

“Loath” seems trickier for people; it’s an adjective. If you are loath to loathe someone, you are reluctant to detest them. Think of “loath,” like “breath,” as holding something back — unwilling, averse, disinclined.

Now, you can take a deep breath, and breathe easier when writing your
e-masterpieces —”e-pieces”?

Let’s hear it for the silent “e”! We are loath to use it incorrectly, because we loathe errors.

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About Terry Byrne

Writer-editor with deep reservations about holding her tongue. Fan of both nature and nurture. Lifelong fascination with gender studies, sexuality, music and brainpower.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. 30-Second Word Whoop: “Pedestrian” | Word Whoops - September 23, 2011
  2. 30-Second Word Whoop: “Bologna” | Word Whoops - September 23, 2011

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