A Desk-Book of Errors in English/K

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Contents: IntroductionA B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


kettle of fish, pretty: A colloquial phrase for "a perplexing state of affairs," or "a muddle," both of which are preferable expressions.

key, quay: Exercise care in the use of these words. A key is that with which something is opened or disclosed; also, a small low-lying island; a quay is a wharf or landing place where ships discharge passen gers or cargo. These words are pronounced alike. Compare dock.

kibosh: A slang term for "humbug." To put the kibosh on, a slang phrase for "to put an end to or stop anything."

kick is not used instead of "protest" by careful speakers, notwithstanding the fact that George Eliot introduced it into literature (see Silas Marner, ch. iv. p. 52). The term is slang.

kid: A common vulgarism for "child" and as such one the use of which can not be too severely condemned.

kid on: A vulgarism used in England for "humbug; hoax; or, try to induce one to believe something that is not true:"—no kid, no kidding: Vulgar terms for "without any humbug." Undesirable locutions.

killing. Compare perfectly.

kinder: For kind of, pronounced as one word, is merely a low vulgarism. The same remark holds of sorter similarly used for "sort of." See kind of.

kindness: When used in the plural is sometimes objected to on the ground that kindness is an abstract noun. "He wishes to express gratitude for many kindnesses." Nothing is commoner than the making of abstract nouns into concrete in this way; "affinities"; "charities"; "His tender mercies are over all His works." Besides, by "many kindnesses" is meant, not "much kindness," nor "great kindness," but "kindness manifested in many forms or shown on many occasions, many acts of kindness."

kind of is an American provincialism for somewhat and has no literary authorization. "I am somewhat tired" should be substituted for "I am kind of tired." Again, after kind of do not use the indefinite article. "What kind of man" is preferable to "what kind of a man."

kind of, sort of: Indefinite phrases used by some lexicographers to introduce definitions; as "a kind of bird"; "a sort of box." If the subject treated be a bird of some species or a box of a specific make it is best usage to describe first what it is and then to follow with the characteristics; as, "a bird of the swallow family," "a cage-like box," etc.

king-pin is not a desirable substitute for "chief man" or "person in charge." As a colloquialism it should be avoided.

kinsman. Compare relation.

knife, to: This term should not be used as a substitute for "stab" or "defeat." Although widely used by politicians in the United States the term has no justification outside of ward politics.

knock, to: Slang for "to harass or find fault with continually;" a similar and more recent word used also in this sense is hammer. Both should be avoided.