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’.
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.
not ‘repellant’ unless meant as a noun (as in insect repellant).
means ‘shy, restrained’ and not ‘reluctant’.
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.
Occasionally, upper case is needed for clarity of meaning when referring to the art movement.
a romantic painting
a Romantic painting
routeing when related to the word route; routing relates to rout, a disorderly retreat or a decisive defeat.
A dead cert is not a ‘shoe-in’.
Avoid using it to mean ‘because’ — use ‘as’ or ‘because’.
skillful is US English.
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 refers to something that isn’t moving; stationery refers to writing materials.
You swat flies and swot for exams.
systemic means ‘relating to the system’ as in a systemic problem; systematic means ‘methodical’.
means ‘make yourself look smart’; it is not a synonym for titillate, which means ‘mildly excite’.
tortuous means ‘long and winding’, as in a tortuous road; torturous involves pain and suffering.
A translator works with the written word; an interpreter works with the spoken word.
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.
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].
does not mean ‘unexceptional, ordinary’. It means ‘not worthy of objection’.
unique means ‘the only one’, so something can’t be very unique. However, Pinker argues that phrases like truly unique are okay and that even quite unique implies that the thing described differs from the others in a number of ways.
not ‘up until’.
venal means ‘open to bribery’; venial means ‘something that can be easily forgiven’.
Someone may waive their rights, meaning ‘choose to give up’; someone who wavers is hesitating.
no hyphen and lower case.
with a capital X and a hyphen.
The plural of zero is zeros, but note that the sniper zeroes in on his or her target.