Lest ye screw up and use less than your wits, KD Did It brings thee thy latest word confusion.
Ooops, did I forget to tell you we’re exploring less versus lest today? My bad. I’m actually not too worried about writers confusing less and lest as the latter is a formal, somewhat archaic word. What does worry me is a writer using lest incorrectly when trying to be “fancy” in one’s writing.
I have no problem being fancy…I’d be a hypocrite if I did!…and I do prefer galloping along in my reading, without those hesitations because someone used the wrong word, ahem. So lest you forget, be sure to check any words you don’t use on a regular basis. We wouldn’t want you to have less of a reading audience because of poor word choices.
|Consider the following:|
|…keeping her lips clamped tight less she blurt out she loved him…
She’s either not keeping her lips clamped as tightly as she could or she doesn’t want to tell him she loves him.
|…keeping her lips clamped tight lest she blurt out she loved him…
She doesn’t want to tell the jerk she loves him.
Word Confusions 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. You may want to explore “Lessen versus Lesson” as well.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Adverb; Adjective; Determiner; Preposition; Pronoun; Suffix (-less)||Conjunction|
|Use only with uncountable things — less money, less time.
With countable things, use fewer, as in fewer people, fewer words. See also the post on “Fewer versus Less“.
|Uses subjunctive mood verb form, which is all about the possible, the wishful, the unreal, or the hypothetical and uses be (present tense) or were (past tense) with lest.|
[Archaic] Of lower rank or importance
Not so much
Not as much
Not as much
[Formal] With the intention of preventing something undesirable
To avoid the risk of
James the Less
That this is a positive stereotype makes it no less a stereotype.
Mitch looked less than happy.
The data was less than ideal.
You’d better be ready in less than an hour.
It’s a city with a population of less than 200,000.
She was worrying lest he be attacked.
He is using headphones lest he disturb anyone.
He spent whole days in his room, headphones on lest he disturb anyone.
She sat up late worrying lest he be held up on the way home.
We must remember history lest we forget.
They were afraid to press charges lest they arouse the gang’s ire.
Mary was hesitant to speak out lest she be fired.
I ask that you be dignified lest you laugh.
I ask that Shelly refrain lest she weep.
Roger recommended that Larry be on hand lest they lose control of the catboat.
|History of the Word:|
|Old English lǣssa, is of Germanic origin and related to Old Frisian lēssa, from an Indo-European root shared by the Greek loisthos meaning last.||First known use: before 12th century
Old English thȳ lǣs the meaning whereby less that, later the læste.
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?