Buck's English: What the Dickens did he want with those handbags?

Gene Owens: Are you guilty of acyrologism, or using one word when you really meant a similar one?
BY GENE OWENS, For The Oklahoman Published: February 9, 2014
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Buck's friend Beverly reached into her handbag to pay for some lilac-scented air freshener at Curly's Soonerco, when Ms. Clarisse van Beauregard sashayed over for some gossip.

“Our book club is going to be discussing the writings of Charles Dickens,” she said. “I read in the Swayback Daily Kick that Charles Dickens was at his best when the reticule of women around him got bigger and prettier.”

“I find it odd that Mr. Dickens should be so much influenced by the purses of the women around him,” said Beverly.

“I suspect that either Ms. Van Beauregard or the Daily Kick is guilty of acyrologism,” said professor Copernicus Claptrap, of the Swayback Polytechnic Institute and Barber College.

Claptrap is correct. Acyrologism is the improper use of a word, as, for instance, the use of “reticule” in place of “retinue.” The two words sound somewhat alike, but have very different meanings.

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