Friday, April 10, 2009

Minuscule -- so spelled. Who knew?

from Garner's Usage Tip of the Day


So spelled, not "miniscule." The word derives from the word "minus"; it has nothing to do with the prefix "mini-." But the word is commonly misspelled — e.g.:
o "Mouth hanging open, Harry saw that the little square for June thirteenth seemed to have turned into a miniscule [read 'minuscule'] television screen." J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 242 (Am. ed. 1999).
o "Even as some people questioned the practical effect of saving such a miniscule [read 'minuscule'] portion of the state budget, they were mostly willing to forgo cynicism." Kathleen Burge, "Forgoing of Salaries Gets Mixed Reviews," Boston Globe, 2 Jan. 2003, at B5.
o "The deck is a triangle with its center angle flattened, 16 feet long and 5 or 6 feet deep. 'Tiny but useful,' said Schuyler, squeezing between the miniscule [read 'minuscule'] table and one of two chairs." Peter Hotton, "A Skinny Masterpiece Built on a Gorgeous Lot," Chicago Trib., 12 Jan. 2003, at N5.
The counterpart — a rarity — is "majuscule." Today that term is used only in printing, to denote a capital letter.

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