Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/238

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A Desk-Book of


vain, vein: Words of similar pronunciation whose spelling is sometimes confused by the careless. Vein is the Latin vena, blood-vessel, from veho, carry, and is therefore totally distinct from vain, which is from the Latin vanus, empty.

valuable is occasionally misused for valued. Valuable is said correctly only of things that have monetary value or derive worth as from their character or quality. One may have valued friends and valuable art- treasures, but not valuable friends nor valued art-treasures.

venal, venial: Discriminate carefully between these words. One who is venal is ready to sell his influence or efforts for some consideration from sordid motives; he is mercenary. But one who is venial has committed only a slight or trivial fault. A man who has sold his vote for preferment is a venal politician; a starving man who has stolen a loaf of bread for his family has been guilty of a venial offense.

ventilate should not be used for "expose" or "explain."

veracity, truth: Do not confound these words. Truth is applied to persons and facts; veracity only to persons and to statements made by them. One should not speak of the veracity of anything that has occurred. A man of integrity may have a reputation