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English for RPGs – Part 12

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Another phrase that twigs me the wrong way is “one of the only.” (Also, “among the only.”) If the person or object is not a singular and is merely a rarity, then “one of the few” sounds much better to me.

I saw the phrase “painted into a corner” used where “neatly categorized” would have fit the context. To paint someone into a corner is to trap them or limit their options. Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe “pigeonholed” was in an earlier draft.

OF v. 'VE

I think that I touched on this one during the preamble, but even so, it bears repeating.

Could have contracts to could've not could of.
Should have contracts to should've not should of.
Would have contracts to would've not would of.

I could've been a contender.
I should've stayed in school.
I would've called, but I thought it was too late.

(And in doing this, I just found out that my word processor had to be taught could've and should've.)


alley (n) a passage between buildings
ally (n) a partner, supporter, comrade-in-arms

The vampire fled into the dimly lit alley.
The alley cat howled a protest at the intruder.
We weren't sure how far we could trust or new ally.


bare (adj) uncovered, naked
bare (v) to reveal; bared, baring
bear (v) to hold up, to endure, to carry; bore, bearing
bear (n) a large mammal

He ran bare naked through the quad. The cupboard was bare.
The ravenous beast bared its fangs and hissed.
Michelle Obama is noted for baring her arms.
It's a heavy burden to bear. I can bear it no longer!
How are you bearing up under the pressure?
A huge bear of a man stood before us.
Americans are always talking about “the right to bear arms.”
As you can see from this series of images, the large herbivores bore several characteristics in common to the elephant of Earth.


chafe (v) to abrade or irritate esp. by rubbing, chafed, chafing
chaff (v) to tease or mock (good-natured), chaffed, chaffing

The stiff collar of the uniform chafed his neck.
Her nasal voice was chafing his nerves.
They always chaffed him about how neatly he kept his desk.


defuse (v) to render inert, weaken
diffuse (adj) dispersed or spread out
diffuse (v) to spread out or scatter

The technician defused the bomb without incident.
The negotiator was trying to defuse the situation peacefully.
The biological agent had already begun to diffuse throughout the terminal.
Fortunately the wind strengthened and diffused the chemical cloud to the point where it was just a mild irritant.


extant (adj) existing
extent (n) the volume or scope of something

It is thought that there are but two extant copies of the book.
I have gone to great extent to acquire both of them.


hail (v) to greet or salute
hale (adj) healthy

Where do you hail from? Hail to the chief. Would you hail me a cab?
I am feeling hale and hearty.


hangar (n) a shed, a place to store an airplane
hanger (n) a hook or device for suspending an object

The east end of the airfield was dotted with corrugated steel hangars.
The closet is to your left. There are plenty of hangers for your coats.


hear (v) to perceive via ear
here (adv) in this place (n) this place

Hear, hear! This meeting is called to order.
I hear through the grapevine that you have a small problem.
Come over here for a minute.
Here goes nothin'.
Here, let me have a turn.


local (n) a short range bus or train, a branch (e.g. of a union), a pub
locale (n) setting, place esp. as related to events or circumstance

Are you waiting for the 8:17 local?
We're going to meet up with them at the local.
The noisy atmosphere of this locale is not conducive to meditation.


marital (adj) related to marriage
martial (adj) related to the military

(I recently read a Kelley Armstrong novel that used both of these in the same sentence.)
The sale of marital aids is regulated in some states. The were the picture of marital bliss.
He was a master of martial arts. Martial law was declared.


persecute (v) to harass and oppress persistently
prosecute (v) to begin legal proceedings against, to follow up or carry on

They were persecuted for their religious beliefs.
He was being prosecuted for grand larceny.
The alliance made preparations to prosecute the war against the goblins.


ring (v) to emit a resonant tone, to cause to make such a sound, rung, ringing
wring (v) to forcibly twist, to extract by twisting, wrung, wringing

The doorbell began to ring. A shot rung out. He went to the doctor because there was a ringing noise in his ears.
I am going to wring your neck. She wrung out the towel and left it on the line to dry. He was wringing his hands in worry.


secession (n) an act of withdrawing formally from a (usu. political) body
succession (n) one thing after another

The Fourth and Eighth Legions were marching westward so that the Iberian governor would reconsider his thoughts of secession.
Thump! Thump! Thump! The ram continued its steady succession of blows against the gate.


spec (n) specification, speculation, pl. specs eyeglasses
speck (n) a tiny bit, a small spot

I can't see a thing without my specs.
The medical instruments were built to exacting specs.
The consignment of clothing was accepted on spec.
There was a speck of dust left on the windowsill.
There wasn't a speck of food in the house.

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