Style Guide Q-Z


rebut/refute/repudiate

rebut means ‘to contest or deny something’; refute means ‘to successfully prove that a claim is wrong’. As the Guardian says, “when a politician claims to have refuted an allegation, what they mean is rebut”.

repudiate means ‘to deny or refuse to accept something’.

regard/regards

The phrase meaning ‘concerning’ is in regard to or with regard to — or, as regards. However, the plural regards means ‘best wishes’ as in give her my regards.

repellent

not ‘repellant’ unless meant as a noun (as in insect repellant).

riffle/rifle

riffle means ‘to flick through a book or magazine’; rifle means ‘to ransack’.

rock ‘n’ roll

but rock and roll is probably more appropriate in formal writing.

romantic/Romantic

Occasionally, upper case is needed for clarity of meaning when referring to the art movement.

a romantic painting

a Romantic painting

routeing/routing

routeing when related to the word route; routing relates to rout, a disorderly retreat or a decisive defeat.

runner-up

and runners-up.

selfsame

not ‘self-same’.

shoo-in

A dead cert is not a ‘shoe-in’.

since

Avoid using it to mean ‘because’ — use ‘as’ or ‘because’.

skilful/skilfully

skillful is US English.

skulduggery

not ‘skullduggery’.

spelled/spelt

According to the Guardian style guide, spelled is the past tense (she spelled it out for him) and spelt is the past participle (the word is spelt like this). Also, spilled and spilt, spoiled and spoilt.

stationary/stationery

stationary refers to something that isn’t moving; stationery refers to writing materials.

supersede

not ‘supercede’.

swat/swot

You swat flies and swot for exams.

systemic/systematic

systemic means ‘relating to the system’ as in a systemic problem; systematic means ‘methodical’.

targeted/targeting

not ‘tt’.

titivate

means ‘make yourself look smart’; it is not a synonym for titillate, which means ‘mildly excite’.

tortuous/torturous

tortuous means ‘long and winding’, as in a tortuous road; torturous involves pain and suffering.

translator/interpreter

A translator works with the written word; an interpreter works with the spoken word.

trooper/trouper

A trooper is a soldier and some people swear like them; a trouper is a member of a troupe (a group of travelling entertainers) or a dependable person. You can be a real trouper.

uber

as in uber-trendy. No umlaut is needed unless quoting German.

umm and ahh

so umm-ed and ahh-ed [according to the Guardian style guide].

unique

unique means ‘the only one’, so something can’t be very unique.

until

not ‘up until’.

U-turn

not ‘u-turn’.

venal/venial

venal means ‘open to bribery’; venial means ‘something that can be easily forgiven’.

waiver/waver

Someone may waive their rights, meaning ‘choose to give up’; someone who wavers is hesitating.

website/webpage

no hyphen and lower case.

while

not ‘whilst’.

X-ray

with a capital X and a hyphen.

zero

The plural of zero is zeros, but note that the sniper zeroes in on his or her target.