Right-click here to download pictures. Jane Straus

Welcome to your GrammarBook.com e-newsletter.

I just want to say thank you for providing the GrammarBook.com website. I'm entering the workforce again after 15 years and need to brush up.
—Kay H.


I am a huge fan of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation and credit it for several GPA points in my college English classes.
—Giffin D.


I learn a great deal about grammar and punctuation from your e-newsletter each week.

Big Words We Can Use

To many Americans, big words are an affront. People who use fancy words are trying to show us up, flaunting their education and intelligence, rubbing our noses in our own shortcomings.

It’s true there are people who use their vocabularies to intimidate. It’s a shabby tactic, and it’s sad how effective it can be. Many a faulty argument has been won by the side with the glib, silver-tongued wordsmith.

Still, a highly developed society needs big words. Most multisyllabic words combine two or more smaller words to express complex ideas that come about as a culture copes with the world’s intricacy, uncertainty, and inscrutability.

In the end, big words take up far less space than repeatedly articulating the complicated concepts they represent. Not so long ago, paranoid was an exotic word that only intellectuals used. (It’s from the Greek para: “amiss, incorrect” + nous: “mind.”) Nowadays even seventh-graders use paranoid. The culture needed a word that could sum up, in a few pithy syllables, “having an irrational belief that you’re being persecuted.”

So below are several big words that, like paranoid, might come in handy in certain situations. The problem is how to get them into general usage. If you take a shine to any of these words, try slipping one in around friends who wouldn’t hate you for it and might even ask you what it means.

Pareidolia  You know how every so often you read about people who see Jesus Christ in a tree trunk? Or some woman in Ohio who keeps a swirl of moldy Cheez Whiz in a vault because she sees the visage of Elvis? That’s pareidolia: the phenomenon of finding the familiar in an improbable place.

Misology  This is a word for our times. It means hatred of reason, logic, enlightenment. People who oppose higher learning and progress used to be dismissed as fools. Now a potential voter’s misology is something many politicians pander to.

Sesquipedalian  This really long adjective means “really long.” It was coined to describe big words, so it is what it means. It can also refer to someone who uses words that are really long, maybe too long.

Billingsgate  Foul or abusive language. It derives from a rowdy fish market in seventeenth century London. It’s innocuous-sounding and obscure enough to work to your advantage if you’re ever sitting with your family near a foul-mouthed sot who won’t shut up. “Please, dude, go easy on the billingsgate, huh?” OK, that probably wouldn’t work, but you tried, and let’s hope it sounded mild enough to avoid a drubbing.

Prelapsarian  If you describe a garden as prelapsarian, you’re praising its unspoiled loveliness, not criticizing it for being dated or out of fashion. We get this word from theology. It’s meant to evoke the state of innocence before the Fall of Man.

Paraprosdokian  One or more sentences that end in an unexpected way. Here’s a fine example: “The car stopped on a dime—which unfortunately was in a pedestrian’s pocket.” Bet you never saw that coming. (Neither did the pedestrian.)

Orthoepy  It’s supposed to be or-THO-a-pee, and by telling you that, I sort of defined the word: it’s the study of proper pronunciation.

Callipygian  Here’s a strikingly euphonious alternative to leering-frat-boy language. It means “having shapely buttocks.” I think I prefer it to badonkadonk.

Tom Stern

Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s Grammar Blog.

Free BONUS Quiz for You!

[[firstname]], because you are a subscriber to the newsletter, you get access to one of the Subscribers-Only Quizzes. Click here to take a Vocabulary Quiz and get your scores and explanations instantly!

Follow-up to “In Memoriam”

We greatly appreciated the many warm and thoughtful notes so many of you sent in regarding Tom Stern's work. We are grateful to each of you who took the time to write us and express how Tom's articles educated, entertained, or touched you in some way. We will post "Tom Stern, In Memoriam" along with your notes on our blog (we will only publish first names and last initials). We also will pass the notes along to his family.

And how ironic that Memoriam was misspelled in the title (“Memorium”). That never would have made it past Tom Stern. Thanks to those of you who kindly pointed out the error.

More Good News for Quiz Subscribers

We are pleased to announce that we have added even more quizzes to help you challenge yourself, your students, and your staff. We added quizzes to existing categories and created some new categories such as “Confusing Verbs,” “Subjunctive Mood,” “Comprise,” “Sit vs. Set vs. Sat,” and “Spelling.”

We reviewed and strengthened every quiz on our website to ensure consistency with the rules and guidelines contained in our eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

If you think you have found an error in a quiz, please email us at help@grammarbook.com.

Hundreds of Additional Quizzes at Your Fingertips

Hundreds of Quizzes

“So convenient … hundreds of quizzes in one click.”

[[firstname]], Subscribe to receive hundreds of English usage quizzes not found anywhere else!

  • Take the quizzes online or download and copy them.
  • Get scored instantly.
  • Find explanations for every quiz answer.
  • Reproduce the quizzes to your heart’s content.
  • EASY to use.
  • No software to download.
  • No setup time.
  • A real person to help you if you have any questions!

Instructors and Employers: we make your life easier!

  • Assign quizzes to your students or employees.
  • Students log in from anywhere.
  • Scores are tallied and compiled for you.
  • You decide whether to let students see their own scores and quiz explanations.
  • Let GrammarBook.com take the hassle out of teaching English!

“Fun to test my skills!”

“The explanations really help … thanks!”

Your choice: Subscribe at the $29.95 or $99.95 level ($30 off - previously $129.95).

“I download the quizzes for my students who don’t have computer access.”

Subscribe today to receive hundreds of English usage quizzes not found anywhere else!

“Makes learning English FUN!”


Don’t need all the quizzes at once?
You can now purchase the same quizzes individually for ONLY 99¢ each. Purchase yours here.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Get Yours Today!

Get Amazon’s No. 1 Best-seller in Four Categories!
No. 1 in Grammar
No. 1 in Reading
No. 1 in Lesson Planning
No. 1 in Vocabulary

The Blue Book of Grammar
and Punctuation

by Jane Straus, Lester Kaufman, and Tom Stern

The Authority on English Grammar!
Eleventh Edition Now Available

Have You Ordered Your Copy Yet?

An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, homeschool families, editors, writers, and proofreaders.

Available in print AND as an e-Book! Over 2,000 copies are purchased every month!

Order Your Copy Today!

  • Hundreds of Grammar, Punctuation, Capitalization, and Usage Rules 
  • Real-World Examples
  • Spelling / Vocabulary / Confusing Words
  • Quizzes with Answers

If you live in the United States or Canada, order The Blue Book through Wiley.com and get 30 percent off and FREE shipping! Simply go to bit.ly/1996hkA and use discount code E9X4AYY.*

For those of you who live outside the U.S. and Canada, although the publisher is not able to offer free shipping, you will get 35 percent off to help offset your shipping costs. Simply go to bit.ly/1996hkA and use discount code E9X4A.*

*Offer expires December 31, 2016.


68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.

Forward this e-newsletter to your friends and colleagues.


If you received this FREE weekly e-newsletter from a friend, click here to have it sent to you each week.

Look for more Hot Tips from GrammarBook.com next week.

Miss a recent newsletter? Click here to view past editions.

Subscriber Log In Subscriber Benefits