I don’t often run across this word confusion, but when I do…hoo-boy. Ticks me off no end. If I have to read one more time about some character leaning up against a jam, I’ll spit and have a tantrum.
A jam is a mess. Okay, so strawberry jam is only messy when the toast hits the floor face down or if the baby gets into it, but if you’ve ever been in a traffic jam or dealt with paper jams, you’ll agree. It’s a mess.
Now a jamb is supportive, constructive. The only mess a jamb will get into is, ahem, a writer using it wrong, or if the door jamb is hung askew. It’s primary job is to provide a stationary post to hang a door on. It might also hold up a decorative molding. It could be recessed to hold counterweights or shutters. It usually has hinges and a door catch of some sort mortised in. People lean against them.
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster: jam|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Noun 1, 2; Verb, intransitive & transitive 1||Noun|
An instance of a machine or thing seizing or becoming stuck 1
An informal gathering of musicians improvising together, especially in jazz or blues
A sweet spread or preserve made from fruit and sugar boiled to a thick consistency 2
[Informal] Improvise with other musicians, especially in jazz or blues
Become or make unable to move or work due to a part seizing or becoming stuck
To push forcibly
[Sports] To block, crowd, or bump a pass receiver near the line of scrimmage in football
[Sports] To pitch inside to a batter
|A side post or surface of a doorway, window, or fireplace
That damn copier has more paper jams.
Ya gotta help me, Nick. I’m in a jam.
Traffic is jammed up on the 405, Tom.
A hand jam simply means that your hands are wedged into a crack with the palms facing one wall of the crack and the back of your hand facing the other.
Bertie’s havin’ a jam session in his basement.
I like strawberry jam with my toast.
Mom’s making raspberry jam tomorrow.
The photocopier jammed again.
It was an opportunity to jam with Atlanta blues musicians.
People jammed their belongings into cars and fled the forest fire.
He jammed his hat on.
Tom had to jam on his brakes to keep from slamming into the bus.
The roads were jammed with traffic.
Listeners jammed WOKY’s switchboard with calls.
The doors were jammed open.
GPS signals are weak and easily jammed.
|Baby, the door jamb is crooked. It’ll take more than a little sandpaper to let us close that dang door.
That jamb ready so we can hang that door today?
If we get some of that jamb armor, we can make it harder to kick the door in.
I bet you could build your own door jamb, and that way we could use that salvage door.
The jamb on the passenger side got bent real bad in that crash.
|History of the Word:|
|1 First known use: 1706
Early 18th century, probably symbolic
|Middle English from the Old French jambe meaning leg or vertical support. It’s based on the Greek kampē meaning joint.|
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?