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Words July 7

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Who let the whelps out? “Doe did not even describe her hands, which one of his own technicians had bagged to test for evidence. And I can see what sure look like angry whelps on Susie’s knuckles in the state Crime Laboratory photographs.” Most commonly, a whelp is the young of the dog, the wolf or some other animal. Sometimes the word is applied to a human youth, Random House says, “especially an impudent or despised one.” The writer probably intended to say that he saw welts on Susie’s knuckles. “Calhoun also said police failed to properly inform Myers of her constitutional rights, kept her in a ‘freezing’ interrogation room and questioned her into the early hours of the morning. Judge I. Ron Fist waived those arguments aside Monday.” He waved them aside, is what he did. This one is a fairly close call, so I’ll let the Cambridge Guide to English Usage call it: “Anglo-French law gave us waive and waiver, as ways of referring to official concessions. Even in nonlegal use they keep their official overtones: The committee must agree to waive the prerequisite. A visa waiver can be obtained at the border. “Wave, meaning ‘signal with the hand,’ comes from Old English, with roles as noun and verb that are quite distinct from waive, most of the time. They only come close in idioms such as wave aside, meaning ‘dismiss.’ For example: He waved aside my offer of payment. “Wave aside still differs from waive in being a personal dispensation rather than an institutional one.” Beethoven was a celebrate composer: From a brochure announcing the coming season of a certain symphony orchestra: “Enjoy all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos, performed by five world-renown soloists and the [name withheld].” Those soloists have no doubt won renown, which is a noun meaning “fame.” But the adjective form is renowned (“famous”). There’s a growing tendency to drop suffixes, such as –d and –ed. Most of us don’t challenge ice tea and corn beef anymore, and there was a song called “Salt Peanuts.” World-renown seems to be taking the practice to a new and lower level.

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