Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Name the quote:

"Look, it’s about my mother. She’s getting on now and she doesn’t have much of a life. And she doesn’t want to do anything or go anywhere and she literally hangs around the house all day. I mean, it’s very frustrating..."

"I’m sorry Doug, can we just go back a second? You said your mother literally hangs around the house. Well, I suppose it’s a pet peeve of mine but what you mean is that she figuratively 'hangs around' the house. To literally hang around the house you’d have to be a bat or spider monkey. Now, back to your problem?"

"Do you mind if we stop while I tell you my pet peeve?"

"Not at all."

"I hate it when intellectual pinheads with superiority complexes nit-pick your grammar when they come to you for help. That’s what I got a problem with!"

"I think what he means is, that is a thing with which he has a problem."

I do actually hate the way people use the word "literally" when they mean "figuratively." I was watching MasterChef the other day and a contestant said, "This is literally the beginning of my life." And it wasn't a newborn who said that.

When I was in medical school, I had an attending who was obsessed with the correct use of the word nauseated. Any time an intern or student would present a patient and say that the patient was "nauseous," he would jump all over them.

"It's nauseated," he would say. "The patient isn't nauseous, unless she's making you nauseated."

I finally looked it up and it seems like "nauseous" is one of those words that got misused so much in the English language that it's basically come to have the same meaning as "nauseated." So it really isn't incorrect to say that the patient is nauseous. And it's also a little less pretentious.

Except every time someone says a patient is nauseous, I still hear that attending yelling in my ear. I can't seem to turn it off.


  1. I had a writing group like that and a very similar experience re: nauseous and nauseated.

    I always hear that person's voice in my head. Even when vomiting.

    But really, when you have the stomach flu, aren't you really both nauseous and nauseated?


  2. Irregardless is the one that always gets me.

    It's regardless or irrespective,

  3. Actually, ending a preposition isn't completely wrong either.

  4. I had a professor, and a nurse I worked with both talk about something called 'sonimeters'- (my spelling- you'll see.)
    I, being an astute student and eager learner, spent countless time looking up what a 'sonimeter' could be.
    I finally had to ask. They were talking about centimeters. Seriously? Give me a break.

    Then comes dilation vs dilatation vs diliatation. That gets me everytime. There are a few reference places where dilatation doesn't even get listed as a real word, although it has become commonplace in the medical profession. My thought is, just because you added an extra syllable, doesn't make you sound smarter. In fact, I think it is opposite- Take dilatation- would you in turn dilatate someone/something? It makes my skin crawl and my brain hurt.

  5. Yeah, the sontimeter thing is beyond obnoxious....

    Nobody tried to guess the quote!

  6. It's from Frasier! I think of that scene every time I hear someone stop a conversation to rant about grammar.

    (I love language, and I think incorrect grammar should be punished with electric shock, but interrupting someone to correct him is just rude.)

  7. Ha! I love grammar (and Kelsey GrammER and 'Frasier'), and plan to do the same.
    -med student

  8. Weird! I had an attending who had the same issue with using nauseous vs nauseated. All of the residents and students knew to never use the word 'nauseous' around him. And I thought it was only him... Good to know there are crazy people everywhere! :)