All posts tagged words

Don’t touch those wires! Photo credit: NOAA – Public domain

New Word of the Day – Bombogenesis

Today’s new word of the day — a form of neologism* — is bombogenesis. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, bombogenesis is a noun meaning the development and intensification of a major storm. It comes from the recent tendency to describe a major storm as a “snow bomb” or “weather bomb.” Lisa Suhey has written an article for the Christian Science Monitor that explains the term bombogenesis and a few others, including blizzard. The weather service has been using bombogenesis for a while, and they even have specific criteria for it, including “when a storm’s area of lowest surface pressure experiences a rapid drop of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours.” Her article also clarifies what makes a blizzard, and it’s not just a lot of snow. To qualify as a blizzard, in addition to a lot of snow, there must be wind-driven snow that reduces visibility to zero for more than three hours, with wind greater than 35 MPH (56 KPH.)

*I differentiated “new word” from “neologism” because to get into my New Word of the Day series, the word must be in a dictionary as a new word, while a neologism isn’t necessarily in a dictionary yet. It might have just been invented by a witty punster or a schizophrenic.

Has any of my readers ever lived through a snow bomb?


different from

Grammar of the Day – Different To

I used to think that “different than” was bad. As in, “Reading a book is different than watching a movie.” But now it seems almost like an old friend. I think it’s been used in the place of “different from” for so long that the language has begun to accept it. And there’s almost a rationale for it. If you can have “bigger than” and “smaller than” and “older than” and “colder than,” then why can’t you have “different than?” After all, those other phrases imply a “difference,” don’t they?

Okay, I admit it: it still annoys me. I don’t think people would make the same mistake with “similar,” the antonym of “different.” I doubt if anyone would say, “Reading a book is similar than reading a magazine.” They would say that it’s “similar to.” Different – similar. From – to. Apart – together. All very logical. But with language, usage trumps logic, so it’s not surprising that the incorrect usage has become so widely used that it’s also widely accepted.

Does that explain “different to?” Has the original error become so mainstream that it has to be replaced by another one? An even worse one, if you ask me. As explained above, “different than” at least has a rationale, however specious. But “different to” is beyond the pale. It has taken the correct “from” and replaced it with its opposite. When I see it I just roll my mental eyes. I’m beginning to wonder if someone’s doing it on purpose. What happens when this one becomes widely accepted? “Different as?”

By the way, a little research shows that all three — from, than and to — are considered correct, but that “from” is least likely to get you in trouble.