A Bank of Transparent Windows
Every now and then, I see words while reading that pop out at me as being used incorrectly. Let me say right up front, I’m not an English teacher, nor a grammarian, but sometimes, it’s pretty obvious that the word has been misused. It happens to all of us from time to time, but we should strive to do better, right? With that thought in mind, here are two examples of misused words I’ve noticed recently.
The first word is opaque. Believe it or not, I see this word being misused fairly often. “She gazed at the rose garden through the opaque windows of the greenhouse.” Huh? Not very likely. Opaque and transparent are exact opposites. Opaque is defined as not able to be seen through, or not transparent.
Example: “The windows were opaque with steam.”
Synonyms: cloudy, filmy, blurred, smeared, misty, hazy, etc.
So be sure your (clean) windows are transparent, and your thoughts, perhaps, opaque.
My second example involves a more confusing pair of words, which are very often misused in both common speech, and in published books. Let’s take a look at home versus hone.
The word home, in addition to meaning a place of residence, also refers to the act of heading home, much like a homing pigeon. “To move or be aimed toward a target or destination with great accuracy, as in: “More than 100 missiles were launched, homing in on radar emissions.”
Hone, on the other hand, means to sharpen, as a knife or axe. It also means to refine or perfect something over a period of time. “She has taken numerous workshops to hone her skills over the years”
So if you are writing about someone moving toward or seeking a target destination, you use home. “She homed in on the source of the delicious aroma.”
If you are talking about perfecting a skill, the word choice is hone. “With every new book, the writer honed her vocabulary skills.”
And there you have it. No more being able to look through opaque windows, and no more “honing in on the pigeon’s nest.”