Word Confusion: Mail versus Male

Posted July 24, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Chain male. Really? Sounds like a Neanderthal speaking: “Chain male, chain male up with leash and collar.”

From all the errors I ran across in this author’s book, I suspect she saved money and used software to proofread her manuscript. Oops.

Please, please don’t give me an excuse to make fun of your book!?! I really don’t want to. I want to read the story, to fall into it. I don’t want to be giggling my way through it imagining some caveman grunting his way through it or finding the mail in bed with some woman…I’d probably be thinking it was a great catalog that was getting her all excited. Not the impression you want me having, I’m sure.

Don’t rely only upon spellcheck. Yes, it’s good to catch a lot of misspelled words, but it will never check the context. Go through your manuscript, your draft, your potential post. Become aware of the words you tend to mix up and make a list.

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.

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Mail Male
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: mail

“Sudanese Chain Mail Coat” is Gaius Cornelius’ own work under CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL license, via Wikimedia Commons

“A Defense.gov News Photo” courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Rosser, U.S. Navy is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A son rushing to greet his father — two males — on his return from a six-month deployment.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 2; Noun;
Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun: mails (the system of mails operated or supervised by the national government, for sending or delivering letters, packages, etc.)
Third person present verb: mails
Past tense or past participle: mailed
Gerund or present participle: mailing

Adjective; Noun
Plural: males
Mailed 2

Letters and packages conveyed by the postal system 1

  • The postal system
  • [As modifier] A mail truck
  • [In singular] A single delivery or collection of mail

[Computing] E-mail

[Dated] A vehicle, such as a train, carrying mail

[Archaic] A bag of letters to be conveyed by the postal system

[Historical] Armor made of metal rings or plates, joined together flexibly 2

  • The protective shell or scales of certain animals
  • [Textiles] An oval piece of metal pierced with a hole through which the warp ends are threaded, serving as an eyelet on a heddle or especially on the harness cords of a Jacquard loom.

[Scottish] Payment, rent, tribute 3

Verb, transitive:
Send a letter or package using the postal system 1

  • [Computing] Send (someone) e-mail

Clothe or cover with mail 2

Of or denoting the sex that produces small, typically motile gametes, especially spermatozoa, with which a female may be fertilized or inseminated to produce offspring

  • Relating to or characteristic of men or male animals; masculine
  • [Of a plant or flower] Bearing stamens but lacking functional pistils
  • [Of parts of machinery, fittings, etc.] Designed to enter, fill, or fit inside a corresponding female part

A male person, plant, or animal

He threw down a mailed gauntlet.

He struck him with a mailed fist.

You can order by mail.

The check is in the mail

Did the mail truck come yet?

Did you see that new magazine that came in the mail today?

Chain mail has been around since at least the fourth century BC and continues to be used today.

Chain mail was eventually supplanted by plate armor.

We ordain and appoint our present Town-thesaurer, and his successors in office, to pay the house-rent and mails of his Lordship and succeeding Presidents of the Session (Act Sederunt, 12. Jan. 1677).

The arrears of rent, or, in our law-style, of mails and duties, prescribe, if they be not pursued for within five years after the tenant’s removing from the lands out of which the arrears are due (Erskine’s Inst. B. iii. T.7. § 20).

Verb, transitive:
If you will mail the coupon, we’ll send you a free trial package.

Hank, e-mail those attachments now.

Mail up!

There are seven male children in this household.

Male unemployment is at an all-time high.

He had a deep male voice that made me shiver.

The audience consisted of adult males.

The male of the species has two brains.

Adjective: mailable, mailless Adjective: antimale, intermale
Noun: antimale, maleness, supermale
History of the Word:
1 First known use: 13th century
Middle English male, from the Anglo-French, of Germanic origin and akin to Old High German malaha meaning bag.

The notion by post dates from the mid-17th century.

2 First known use: 14th century
Middle English (also denoting the individual metal elements composing mail armor) and from the Old French maille, from the Latin macula meaning spot or mesh.

3 First known use: before 1150
Middle English male, maille, from Old English māl meaning agreement, pay, from the Old Norse māl meaning speech, agreement and akin to the Old English mǣl speech.

Late Middle English from the Old French masle, which is from the Latin masculus, which is from mas meaning a male.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Man in Toecuffs” by rubber soles Gummifüße from Frankfurt, Deutschland, under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license and “Pile of Junk Mail” is Dvortygirl’s own work under CC BY-SA 3.0 license, both via Wikimedia Commons.