Sugliaisms: Words and Phrases that I Have Invented

Sugliaisms: Words and Phrases that I Have Invented

by Joseph Suglia

Special thanks to Cynthia Anaya

Here is a partial list of words and phrases that I have invented:

anthropophagophobia: the fear of cannibalism

autothanatography: the writing of the self that dies

phantasmoception: the perception of ghosts

thanatoception: the perception of mortality

carcinoception: the preperception of cancer

chromoception: the perception of color

das Enttäuschungsgelüst: the desire for someone else’s disappointment

Apocalypoception: the preperception of the Apocalypse

perforant: perforating

analogy-blindness: the tendency to literalize and thus misunderstand an analogy

entomophagophobia: the fear of eating insects

porcivory: the eating of pigs and other swine

engrossable: capable of causing engrossment; able to engross one

infiltratable: capable of being infiltrated

recency aversion: aversion to what is recent; the opposite of recency bias

saunaist: someone who enjoys attending saunas

part-of-it art: populist, participatory art

wordful: verbally prolific

quackpot: I rarely permit myself portmanteaux, but this is one I’ve invented: “quack” + “crackpot”

adjunctosaur: an aging adjunct lecturer at a college or university

quackster: a quack

Reverse Candaulism: a wife who enjoys displaying her husband’s naked body to other women

to discongregate: to disperse a concourse of people

to recompose: to compose again

exduction / to exduce: to proceed, as a teacher, from the student’s level of understanding; the opposite of induction

to serenify: to make serene

sereniferous: bearing serenity

porcivore / porcivory: the practice of eating of pork

ophidicide: snake-genocide

literosexual / literosexuality: an erotic affinity for literature

hypertopia: a space beyond any physical realm

homotopia: a dominant place that is the same as other dominant spaces

casualism: a colloquial expression

bicephalic: having two heads

bidorsal: having two backs

autoscriptography: a story of the trajectory of one’s writing

autodetective: someone, like Oedipus, who searches for oneself

lachrymal: tearful

to witchify: to turn into a witch

unicornology: the study of unicorns

to concord: to agree with someone or something

heterophile / heterophilous / heterophily: heterosexual

undislikable: incapable of being disliked

serenific: causing serenity

deserenify: to remove serenity

gastropodicide: the killing of gastropods

unresurrectable: incapable of being resurrected

misomater: mother-hater

gynaltry: the worship of women / gynalter

gynaltrous: worshipful of women

one-up-boyship: to be rivalrous towards other boys or towards men, in a juvenile fashion

retro-cliché: an expression that was once a cliche yet is one no longer (e.g. “to powder one’s nose”; “to stretch one’s legs”)

careericide: to kill one’s career

eulexia: a more positive way of regarding dyslexia

obviatable: capable of being obviated

resurrectable: capable of being resurrected

sushiary: a Japanese restaurant

brunchology: the science of bruncheon

verbicide: the killing of words

verbophile: a lover of words (verbophily)

galeophage: an eater of cats

to monsterize: to turn into a monster

philosophocracy: the rule of philosophers

cognocracy: the rule of intellectuals

Armageddonic or Ragnarökian: relating to Armageddon or Ragnarök

to disrecommend: to rescind or withhold one’s recommendation

logogenetic: creative of meaning

to recommunicate: to repeat one’s communication

second-hand nausea: to experience nausea vicariously (by watching someone else become nauseated)

to dirigate: to maneuver; this is a calque from the German verb dirigieren

averagehead(s): average people; shmos; schmucks

to retro-condition: to make something resemble its model. E.g. “The tractor was retro-conditioned to resemble the tractors of the early twentieth century.”

illogician: an illogical person; a fool

warlady | warladies: female warlord | female warlords

overlady | overladies: female overlord | female overlords

horrawful: a portmanteau of “horrible” and “awful”

saturnalianly: in a saturnalian manner (adverb)

oppositism | oppositist: contrarianism | contrarian

sillily: in a silly manner (adverb); “He writes sillily of silly things”

casualisms | informalisms: colloquialisms

done-to-undeath: done to the point of zombification

cookable: capable of being cooked

holidayer: a vacationer

to hagiographize: to invent a hagiography of

antinomist: an-tin-o-mist: someone who opposes, on principle, conventional politics and/or morality; a libertist

antipodalist: an antinomist

pastism: the opposite of presentism

unageable; unageably: unfadable, never ageing

inbestial: not like an animal

to puppetize: to treat as if someone or something were a puppet

underworldly: of the unworldly

wizardess: female wizard

unannoying: not annoying

unrehabilitatable: incapable of being rehabilitated; unreconstructible

relationshipism: some kind of ideology of relationships

cosmeticography: the story of someone’s relation to lipstick. 

displeasurable: capable of causing displeasure

emotional-political / political-emotional: the politics of pathos; the politics of manipulating the emotions of the public

virtuous-Machiavellian: manipulating others for virtuous ends

incorrection: a captious correction that is actually incorrect | “Your ‘corrections’ are incorrections.  I know what I am doing; you, by contrast, have no idea what I am doing.”

unintimidatable: incapable of being intimidated

inoptical: not related to the visual

to grenade: to lob grenades at someone or something

to airport: to turn a heterotopia into an airport store

de-embellish: to remove the ornamentation

unpigeonholable: something or someone who is unclassifiable / cannot be pigeonholed

unfigureoutable: insoluble, undecipherable

provokable: what can be provoked

unprovokable: what cannot be provoked

misknowledge: incorrect knowledge

resaying: restatement

to disequilibriate: to bring out of balance

preperception: a perception of something that has not yet occurred; an unconscious “perception” (sense-certainty in Hegel)

everyboy: everyone who is a boy

inartistic: not artistic

unfastidious: not fastidious

unmonastic: not monastic

undiscourageable: incapable of being discouraged

anti-felicity: something that militates against felicitous expression

englyphing: turning a word into a symbol

To de-propagandize: to remove the propagandistic content from something

to lobsterize: to turn someone or something into a lobster

autoanthropophagy | autoanthropophagous: self-cannibalism

daymare: a nightmare that appears during the day

lifeful | lifefulness: vivacious | vivaciousness

deathful | deathfulness: resemblant of death

to overmother: to be overprotectively motherly

to overfather: to be overprotectively fatherly

overmellow: overly mellow

overblissful: overly blissful

unannoying: not annoying

unbothersome: not bothersome

galeophage: someone who eats cats

cleverling: a clever person

vherm: voluntary hermit

inherm: involuntary hermit

slimsy: a portmanteau of “slim” and “flimsy”

to monsterize: to diabolize / villainize / hobgoblinize

to revirginize: to return someone to virginity

disenchainment: the removal from bonds

mimophilia: the desire to imitate

mimophobia: the irrational fear of imitation

multispiritedness: transcending dogmatism; having multiple and often contradictory perspectives

redeath: after resurrection or reincarnation, dying again (nirvana)

celestiography: the writing of the sky; writing about the sky

unacknowledgeable / the unacknowledgeable: what cannot be acknowledged

exflux: flowing outward

hesitantism: Hamletian philosophy

batcakes: crazy

invasible: capable of being invaded

promenadology: the study of walking

macabrely: in a macabre fashion

slimishly: in a somewhat slimy manner (“He says slimishly, the slimsy man”)

satirizable / unsatirizable: capable of satirization / incapable of satirization (“Reality is unsatirizable at this point”)

exaggeratable: capable of being exaggerated

apicide: bee-genocide

equitarian: relating to questions of equity

flinchy: having the tendency to flinch

petrophile: someone who likes rocks

anthropogogy / anthropogogic: the teaching of human beings

flimsical: a portmanteau that combines “flimsy” and “whimsical”

to antlerize: to cuckold

to englyph: to inscribe a glyph, a nonverbal symbol | englyphing

cannibal-adjacent: not a cannibal yet endorsing of cannibalism

involatile: incapable of flight

unirritating: not irritating

extrovertism: a philosophy that celebrates extroversion

introvertism: a philosophy that celebrates introversion

ad-hominem praise: praising the worker at the expense of the work

herbivorocracy: a society run by vegetarians or Vegans

antiadverbist: one is opposed to the use of adverbs

second-over (n.): one more than a once-over

Überraschungswahrnehmung: the perception of someone’s surprise

equitarian: another way of saying “progressivist”

supergood: better than just good

gossipee: someone about whom is gossipped

departmentarian: the member of a department

to extroject / extrojection: the opposite of introjection; to impute / to place the subject’s ideas or world-views onto others

stochastic protesting: a kind of protest that would probabilistically stimulate future protests; the probabilism of protesting

food-demographics: concerning the location of food-deserts, clusters of costly eateries, etc.

food-gentrification: the geographical apportionment of supermarkets, restaurants, eateries, etc., along economic lines

uningenious / uningeniously / uningeniousness: without ingeniousness

poisonist: someone who administers poison furtively

beniferous: transporting the good; bearing the good, the boniform, the benefic, the beneficent

to cacophemize: to say something nice in an ugly way

sympath (n.): someone who possesses sympathy for others

hetero-didactic / hetero-didacticism: being taught by an external authority (the opposite of autodidacticism)

Dr. Joseph Suglia


The Endemic and Organic Disease of Willie Nillie, Who Drinks, Who Impacts Me, Who Is Totally Intentional, Agreeable, Disingenuous, Egregious, Toxic, and Meta, Who Has a Big Ego, Who Resonates with Me, and Who Is Totally Obsessed by the Mass Exodus from Our Apocalyptic Society

The Endemic and Organic Disease of Willie Nillie, Who Drinks, Who Impacts Me, Who Is Totally Intentional, Agreeable, Disingenuous, Egregious, Toxic, and Meta, Who Has a Big Ego, Who Resonates with Me, and Who Is Totally Obsessed by the Mass Exodus from Our Apocalyptic Society

by Joseph Suglia


Endemic is not the right way to describe a pandemic which has become normalized or naturalized.  Prefer nativeEndemic properly means “peculiar,” “exclusively specific,” or “particular.” Incidentally, peculiar means “exclusively specific,” as well. Peculiar does not mean “strange,” “odd,” “unusual.” EXAMPLES: The persimmon is a fruit which is endemic to East Asia.  The rattlesnake and the caribou are endemic to North America.


Organic, etymologically, means “from human work.”  It does not mean “natural.”  The correct use of organic separates careful, serious writers from the hacks.  Organic might be the most commonly misused word in the English language.


Willy-nilly does not mean “in a haphazard manner.”  It means “involuntarily,” “whether I want to or not.”

to drink

Why is it that everyone assumes that drinking alludes to imbibition of alcohol?  There are other imbibitional practices than the consumption of spirituous libations.


I do not care who misuses this word.  Impact is a noun, not a verb.  Prefer to make an impact.


To be intentional is a nonsensical fabrication.  One is not intentional.  One does something intentionally.


I am not sure how many times more I can read and hear the misuse of the words agreeable and disagreeable without resistance.  Despite what Dr. Jordan Peterson will tell you, agreeable does not mean “submissive,” “acquiescent,” “conforming,” “obeisant,” “complaisant,” nor does disagreeable mean “rebellious,” “disobedient,” “resistant,” “renitent,” “recalcitrant.”  Agreeable means “pleasing to the senses.”  Disagreeable means “unpleasant.”


Disingenuous does not mean “dishonest.”  It means “pretending to be innocent when one is not,” which is something different.


Egregious does not mean “morally bad.”  It means “conspicuous.”  Indeed, the word egregious originally meant “distinguished,” “eminent”!  In the same way in which the word bland originally meant “pleasant,” and the word egregious originally meant something that is different from what it has come to mean.


Toxic does not mean “abusive.”  It means “carrying a toxin,” “poisonous.”


Meta is Greek for “after.”  It is fine to use it as a prefix, such as in metapsychology or metaphysics.  In such cases, the prefix meta– means “beyond.”  Meta, by itself, does not mean “self-reflexive,” which is the proper way of writing it. It is likely that the misuse of meta as a stand-alone adjective is derived from meta-fictional or meta-cinematic.

big ego

In Freudian psychoanalysis, the Ego (das Ich) is the self-preservational part of the human mind; it is a representation of the Reality Principle.  The Ego is the “I” that stands against the impulses of the Id (das Es) and squares these impulses with the demands of the world.  Having a “big ego” makes no sense.  I suppose that one might be said to have a “solid ego,” but there is no such thing as a “big ego.”  There might be such a thing as a “big Ego-Ideal,” however.  The Ego-Ideal is the idealized image that someone has of oneself.  The Ego-Ideal is a form of self-deception, a fictionalized image-concept of one’s being. 

The Ego regulates the desires, the proclivities, the impulses, the inclinations of the libido.  Imagine a man who believes that he is a good-natured and unfailingly polite—he compliments himself thus.  His behavior suggests otherwise, and, more to the point, his unconscious mind suggests otherwise.  And I do not think it makes any sense to describe the size of the Ego.  I would, however, defend those who use the phrase “fragile Ego,” under the proviso that they know what they mean.  All of this merely to write: There is no such thing as a “big Ego”!

Egotistical is some kind of linguistic savagery that should be quickly civilized.  If you must use such a word, prefer egoistic or egoistical.  In my Nietzsche translations, I use egoic.

to resonate with

We need to stop using the phrase to resonate with.  It is nonsensical.  To resonate means “to continue to produce sound,” “to echo.”  It only makes sense to write or say, to resonate within.  Something might resonate within you, but how could something resonate with you?


Are you truly “obsessed” with any social-media site?  Are you truly “obsessed” with any piece of clothing?  Are you truly “obsessed” with any kind of food?  Are you truly “obsessed” with a song?  Are you truly “obsessed” with cleaning your home?  An obsession is an all-engulfing fascination that deprives you of hunger and sleep.  We would do well to use this term more sparingly. Remember that to obsess is derived from obsidēre, which means “to beleaguer,” “to besiege,” “to weigh upon,” “to oppress.”

mass exodus

The phrase mass exodus is a pleonasm.  Exodus is a Greek word that means “the way out” and came into prominence from the Hebraic Bible’s description of the departure of the Ancient Israelites from Egypt.  Every exodus is the exodus of a mass of people.


Meanings have accreted to this word that are alien to what the word actually means.  The Apocalypse is not the cataclysm that will end the world; it refers to the impendent revelation of what is good and what is evil.  The term is derived from the Greek apokalýptein, which means “to disclose,” “to reveal,” “to uncover.”  Thus, it makes no sense to say or write that something is “apocalyptically terrible,” since the Apocalypse might not be bad at all.  Indeed, if a writer makes Apocalyptic pronouncements, good for him / her! That writer is revealing Good and Evil and distinguishing what is good from what is evil. If you want to describe something that is surreally terrible, prefer dystopian or cacotopian.  Incidentally, always capitalize the A in “Apocalypse” and don’t confuse it with “Armageddon.” I propose the coinages Armageddonic or Ragnarökian, instead of Apocalyptic, to signify “end-of-the-worldly.”

doctor joseph suglia, dr joseph suglia, dr. joseph suglia, joseph suglia, Uncategorized



by Joseph Suglia

Table of Contents

A Few Words of Introduction

An Agreeable Global Pandemic

A List of Errata

Nebulously Nuanced and Fortuitously Fortunate Vagaries that Are Really Vague

124 Problems of Usage

All of these sentences are wrong. Why?

“Hyper-” as a Prefix

“Subconscious,” “subconsciously”

Stupidity vs. Ignorance

Analogy Blindness

Twenty-Seven More Principles of English Usage

Groups of Animals

A Brief Mention of “Mention”


Adverse vs. Averse

Affect vs. Effect



Alternately vs. Alternatively

Also; although

Amid vs. Among

Analogous vs. Similar

And, But, Or, Because

Anxious vs. Eager


“As to”

Avoid These Words

Bare / Bear


Blatant vs. Flagrant


The Brave and the Cowardly


Cactuses, Octopuses, and Ignoramuses on your Syllabuses

Censure vs. Censor

Classic vs. Classical




Compliment vs. Complement

Compose vs. Comprise


Copious Notes, Stark Contrasts, Heated Debates, Devastating Losses, and Firm Believers

Danglers (Misplaced or Dangling Modifiers)


Deism vs. Theism–Or, Why I am Such a Spiritual Person

Deja vu

Delusion vs. Illusion

Devil’s Advocate

Dialogue, Conference, Reference, Table



Discreet vs. Discrete

Discriminating against People Like Me

Disinterested vs. Uninterested

Dynamic Arch-Nemeses

Each other vs. One another

Economic vs. Economical

Elicit vs. Illicit


Enjoying Reading

Enormity vs. Enormousness

Envelop vs. Envelope

“Everybody danced with their spouses”

Everyday vs. Every Day


Few vs. Less

Fleshy vs. Fleshly

Fruit, Salt, and Mustard

French Latin vs. Anglo-Saxon German

Grammar: Volume One

“Happy Birthday to Infants!”

The Holy Dictionary





Iconic Role Models

“I could care less”

“I find your tone very gratuitous”

Imply vs. Infer

In behalf of vs. On behalf of


Inflammable Flammables

“In terms of…”

Into vs. In to

It isn’t ironic. It really isn’t.



Leading Question


“Looking forward to receive…”

Malnutrition, malnourishment

Masterful vs. Masterly

May, Might, Could


Mutual Friends Love Platonic Friends




On Commas and Their Proper Use

Optimism and Pessimism

Oversimplified Oversimplifications

Parameter vs. Perimeter


Phenomenal Phenomena!





“Quick question!”


Realize / Realization


Restauranteur vs. Restaurateur

Ridiculously Ridiculous Ridiculousness

Sensual vs. Sensuous

Sports Metaphors

Than vs. Then

Too Many Words



Is it “try to help you” or “try and help you”?

Uniquely Unique Uniqueness

Waiting All Night on You (in High School)

Which vs. That

The End


An Agreeable Global Pandemic

An Agreeable Global Pandemic

by Joseph Suglia

1.) Despite what Jordan Peterson implies, agreeable does not mean “tending to agree,” “complaisant,” “obedient,” “submissive.”  Agreeable means “pleasant.”  EXAMPLE: “Nothing could be more agreeable” means “Nothing would be more pleasant.”  Disagreeable means “unpleasant.”

2.) To beg the question means “to move in a circle argumentatively.”  Begging the question means that what was supposed to be proven has not been proven–the premise of the argument has been merely repeated.  EXAMPLE: “Schools need to be reopened because not to do so would be to keep them closed.”  To beg a question does not mean “to prompt a question.”  It is tautologous, like an Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail.

3.) “Global pandemic” [sic] is a pleonasm (writing the same thing twice or saying the same thing twice).  Pan- means “everything.”  Of course, a pandemic is global!

4.) Reactionary does not mean “reactive.”  It is a politics which is unreconstructed, a deeply entrenched adherence to tradition.

5.) Moot is a term of law.  It does not mean “mute,” despite the phonetic identity.  Moot means the precise opposite of mute: What is moot is what is discussable, not what is indiscussable.  What is moot is what you may talk about, not what you may not talk about.

6.) Nothing irritates me more than the misuse of the word performative.  Since I am a comparatist, I have spent many years of my life studying literary theory, and postmodern literary theory draws many of its concepts from linguistics.  Performative comes from the work of the philosopher J.L. Austin.  A performative is a sentence that has the word “I” as its subject and which appears to elicit an action.  A performative is illocutionary if it is direct (a promise or a command) or perlocutionary if it is indirect (a form of persuasion or seduction).  “I promise to cook your breakfast tomorrow morning” is an illocutionary speech act because it might lead to the action of cooking someone’s breakfast.  A perlocutionary speech act would be: “I wonder if you would like me to cook your breakfast tomorrow morning.”

7.) I have written about this elsewhere (cf. “Literally”), but to repeat for the purpose of emphasis: “I literally cannot hear the music” does not need the word literally.

8.) Some cliches are useful.  A useful cliche is a high-frequency expression.  EXAMPLES: “If you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes”; “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

9.) Enttäuschungsgelüst is a word that I have coined which means “the pleasure in someone else’s disappointment.”  Let us say that someone wants you to be unhappy.  Your happiness makes your enemy disappointed; you feel Enttäuschungsgelüst as a result.  Perhaps you feel Enttäuschungsgelüst when someone else is disappointed when you decline the invitation to a party.  The fact that your presence is desired and missed fills you with Enttäuschungsgelüst.

10.) It makes no sense to say/write that someone has a “fragile Ego,” a “big Ego,” or an “inflated Ego,” unless one intends thereby the construction of the Ego Ideal.  The Ego Ideal is the idealized and self-preserving image of the self.

11.) Never say/write that a character or a person is “relatable,” unless you specify to what or to whom that character or person can be related.  “The characters in the Netflix program are very relatable.”  To what?  To whom?  And what does “very” mean in this sentence?

12.) “No problem” is a problem.  Prefer “You are welcome” or “My pleasure,” which is the preferred expression of welcome by the employees of Chick-fil-A.

13.) Avoid superfluous words and phrases.  Instead of saying/writing, “She was able to create a painting,” say or write, “She created a painting.”

14.) Capitalize all of the letters in RADAR, for it is an acronym.  But should one capitalize all of the letters in robot?

15.) Avoid portmanteaux (see my forthcoming guide The Ten Punctilios of Style).  Portmanteaux are formed by people who think that they don’t have enough time to utter two words.  So, they combine two words into one, clumsily.  They say things such as “passionpreneuer.”

16.) “A little bit extreme” is an example of antiphrasis (if something is extreme, it is not “little”).

17.) “I, personally” is an example of a pleonasm.  Delete “personally,” and simply write, “I.”  There is no reason to write, “personally,” if you write, “I.”

18.) Stop saying/writing, “the new normal.”  Simply say or write, “the way that we do things now.”

Joseph Suglia


Hyper-cautious, hyper-serious, hyper-competitive, hyper-complex, hyper-concentrated, hyper-correctness, hyper-critical

Hyper-cautious, hyper-serious, hyper-competitive, hyper-complex, hyper-concentrated, hyper-correctness, hyper-criticize

by Joseph Suglia

To be hyper-cautious means not to be cautious.

To be hyper-serious means not to be serious.

To be hyper-competitive means not to be competitive.

To be hyper-complex means not to be complex.

To be hyper-sexualized means not to be sexualized.

To be hyper-concentrated means not to be concentrated.

To be hyper-correct means not to be correct.

To be hyper-modern means not to be modern.

To hyper-criticize means not to criticize.

To be hyper-emotional means not to be emotional.

To be hyper-nationalistic means not to be nationalistic.

To be hyper-endemic means not to be endemic.

To be hyper-sensitive means not to be sensitive.

To be hyper-excitable means not to be excitable.

To be hyper-parasitic means not to be parasitic.

To be hyper-functional means not to be functional.

Why is this?  Because hyper– means, properly, “beyond” or “transcending.”  It does not mean “extremely” or “at a high level.”

The same may be written of meta– and supra-.  These prefixes also mean “beyond” or “transcending.”

Instead of using hyper– to mean “at the upper limit,” use ultra-.

Alternatively, if you want a prefix that means “at the interior limit,” “superior,” “at a high level,” or “extremely,” use super– instead.  I understand the reluctance to do so, since super– sounds identical to the adjective super, which sounds schoolchildish rather than schoolish.  However, I would argue that the prefix should be rehabilitated.  So:

ultra-vigilant or super-vigilant

ultra-complex or super-complex

ultra-modernize or super-modernize

ultra-correct or super-correct

ultra-nationalistic or super-nationalistic (supra-nationalistic would mean “globalistic,” “cosmopolitan,” or “internationalistic”)

ultra-parasitic or super-parasitic


James Joyce has no problem using superseriously (without the hyphen, of course, since he is Joyce).

Joseph Suglia

descriptivism vs. prescriptivism, english usage, english usage guide, joseph suglia, language, mla citation, mla in text citation, mla quotation, narrative, philosophy, poems, poetry, poetry-2, prescriptivism vs. descriptivism, quotation mark, quoting, quoting text, subconscious, subconsciously, thoughts, Uncategorized, usage, walrus, word, words, writing, writing-2



Since there is confusion around the term “usage,” let me write a few words of introduction here.

Usage covers three areas:

a.) whether certain words should be used at all

b.) when certain words should be used


c.) where words should be used

The language of choice is Standard Written American English not because it is the only form of English or because it is the best form of English.  It is the language of choice because it is the form of English that is political and institutional.  Standard Written American English is no better than, for instance, Spanglish or Chinglish.  It is simply the form of English that has been, by a series of historical accidents, politically and institutionally accepted.

Is “lightning” a verb?  Is it acceptable to write, “It is lightninging”?

According to Standard Written American English, it is.

Is “you guys’s dog” Standard Written American English?

The descriptivists would say that it is, since the descriptivists believe that a community of language users does not need to be told how to use “their own” language.  Descriptivists believe that language is a game without any rules.  Language, according to the descriptivists, is a game of tennis that is played without a net, without a court, without a ball, and without rackets.

I would argue, on the other hand, that every language has its own set of rules already.  It is absolutely fine to write, “you guys’s dog” in colloquial English.  It is absolutely wrong to write, “you guys’s dog” in Standard Written American English.

What determines acceptability?  The boundaries of acceptability are set by that which one can explain.  All I am arguing for is a greater consciousness-in-writing.  I wish that today’s writers would become more conscious writers.

When there is a question of meaning, instead of looking to the dictionaries, one should look at etymologies.  The verb peruse is a good example of an amphibolous word.  To peruse means, according to most dictionaries, both “to read carefully” and “to read carelessly.”

If one knows that the prefix per- means “thoroughly,” the choice becomes clear: To peruse means “to read carefully” in Standard Written American English, despite what dictionaries might tell you.

Dr. Joseph Suglia

analogy blindness, Uncategorized

Analogy Blindness by Dr. Joseph Suglia


Over the years, I have invented a number of words and phrases.  Genocide pornography is one that I am especially proud of (cf. my essays on Quentin Tarantino); anthropophagophobia is another word that I coined, which means “the fear of cannibalism” (cf. my interpretation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It).  I would like to introduce to the world (also known as Google) a new linguistic term:

analogy blindness (noun phrase): the inability to perceive what an analogy represents.  To be lost in the figure of an analogy itself, while losing sight of the concept that the analogy describes.


The Analogist: Polygamy is like going to a buffet instead of a single-serve restaurant.  Both are inadvisable.

The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: People love buffets!


The Analogist: Being taught how to write by Chuck Palahniuk is like being taught how to play football by a one-legged man.

The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: A one-legged man who knows how to coach football?  That’s great!


The Analogist: You should not have reprimanded her in such a rude manner for taking time off from work.  You treated her as if she were guilty of some terrible offense, such as plagiarism.

The Person Who is Blind to the Analogy: But plagiarism is bad!


Derived from Hui-neng: When the wise person points at the Moon, the imbecile sees the finger.

Joseph Suglia

birthday anniversary usage, english usage, english usage guide, happy birthday bad english, happy birthday incorrect english, happy birthday misuse, happy birthday or happy birth anniversary, happy birthday poor usage, happy birthday usage, is it correct to wish someone a "happy birthday"?, is it right to say happy birthday, Uncategorized

“Happy Birthday to Infants!”

“Happy Birthday to Infants!”

Please never say or write, “Happy Birthday!” (notice the capitalization and the exclamation mark), unless you are wishing happiness to a neonate who is coming into the world on the day on which you utter or inscribe these words.

If someone is seventy-eight years old, why wish that person a “Happy Birthday,” since s/he was born long ago?  After all, she or he was not born today.

“Happy Birthday!” implies the giving of happiness on the day of someone’s nativity.

Instead say / write, “Happy Birth Anniversary!”  I admit that it would be cumbersome / stilted / artificial to say or write, “I wish you happiness on the anniversary of the day of your birth” or “Happy Anniversary of the Day of Your Birth!”

Please note the punctuation and capitalization:

They shouted, “Happy Birth Anniversary!”

They wished her a “happy birth anniversary.”

Joseph Suglia

gratuitous usage, the use of the word tone, tone english usage, tone usage, Uncategorized

“I find your tone very gratuitous”

“I find your tone very gratuitous”

“It is very nice to meet you, and I hope to see you again soon,” Cheyenne said with the most gratuitous tone she could muster into the phone.

And did I not have something of the same gratuitous tone where my wage-earning was concerned?

While the article is written in a somewhat gratuitous tone, I think that it is meant to be informative.

The three sentences above have two things in common:

a.) They are three of the most invasively galling and aggressively grating sentences that I have ever read in my life.

b.) They couple the words gratuitous and tone.


Despite what descriptivist dictionaries might tell us, gratuitous should not signify “unnecessary” or “unwarranted.”  Gratuitous is derived from gratus and originally meant “what is freely given,” “what is given without the expectation of compensation.”

Thus, it makes no sense to write, “Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers (1993) contains a gratuitous scene of violence,” unless you are suggesting that the scene is given to audiences without the expectation of compensation.

Use supererogatory or superfluous instead.


Whenever someone says/writes the word tone, I usually do not understand what that person means.  “You have to establish a tone in your writing”: In order to establish a tone, I must first know what the word tone signifies.

Tone is the vaguest, slipperiest word in the English language, and I wish that it would go extinct.

The color of her writing, the atmospherics, the mood of Daphne du Maurier’s novels — these terms, at least, are clear.  Color, atmospherics, mood.  I understand what prose style is.

Tone is more general than any of these words and refers to everything and nothing with equal acuity or vacuity.

Tone is used these days as a surrogate for the refutation of an argument: “I agree with what you are saying, but I don’t like your tone.”  Instead of a reasoned disagreement, there is the accusation of a “bad tone,” and this accusation is supposed to shut down one’s argument.

There is no defense or recourse against such an accusation.  Tone is irreducibly subjective.

When pressed, the accuser will say, “Well, I just don’t like the way that you said that.”  This leads me to believe that tone is a camouflage word.  It disguises the bluntness of “I don’t like the way that you said that.”

The German correlative of tone is der Ton and has a clearer meaning.  For a contemporary use of this, consult Haneke’s film Funny Games (1997).  Friedrich Hölderlin knew what he meant by the word when he employed it in his theory of tonal modulation (Wechsel der Töne).

My advice?  Never use the English word tone, ever.

Joseph Suglia




No one can convince anyone of anything.  That’s right.  You can persuade someone of something, but you cannot convince someone of something.  However, you might be convinced of something or convinced that something is true.

EXAMPLES: I am convinced that he is trustworthy.

I am convinced of his trustworthiness.

BUT: She persuaded me that he is trustworthy.

Joseph Suglia