Some choice excerpts from The Elements of Style’s common misuses

Each and every one. Pitchman’s jargon. Avoid, except in dialogue.

Enormity. Use only in the sense of “monstrous wickedness.” Misleading, if not wrong, when used to express bigness.

Flammable. An oddity, chiefly useful in saving lives. The common word meaning “combustible” is inflammable. But some people are thrown off by the in– and think inflammable means “not combustible.” For this reason, trucks carrying gasoline or explosives are now marked FLAMMABLE. Unless you are operating such a truck and hence are concerned with the safety of children and illiterates, use inflammable.

In the last analysis. A bankrupt expression.

Lay. A transitive verb. Except in slang (“Let it lay”), do not misuse it for the intransitive verb lie. The hen, or the play, lays an egg; the llama lies down. The playwright went home and lay down.

Nauseous. Nauseated.
The first means “sickening to contemplate”; the second means “sick at the stomach.” Do not, therefore, say, “I feel nauseous,” unless you are sure you have that effect on others.

Noun used as verb. Many nouns have lately been pressed into service as verbs. Not all are bad, but all are suspect.

People. The word people is best not used with words of number, in place of persons. If of “six people” five went away, how many people would be left? Answer: one people.

Prestigious. Often an adjective of last resort. It’s in the dictionary, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it.

Respective. Respectively. These words may usually be omitted with advantage.

The truth is… The fact is…
A bad beginning for a sentence. If you feel you are possessed of the truth, or of the fact, simply state it. Do not give it advance billing.

Transpire. Not to be used in the sense of “happen,” “come to pass.” Many writers so use it (usually when groping toward imagined elegance), but their usage finds little support in the Latin “breathe across or through.” It is correct, however, in the sense of “become known.” “Eventually the grim account of his villainy transpired” (literally, leaked through or out).

-wise. Not to be used indiscriminately as a pseudosuffix: taxwise, pricewise, marriagewise, prosewise, saltwater taffywise. The sober writer will abstain from the use of this wild additive.

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