* Romps Through the Dictionary (Metamorphose, Acronym, Forevermore)

Some people think that professional editors and writers are walking encyclopedias of English usage. I don’t correct them. But the truth is that, the more of a “pro” you are, the more time you probably spend with your nose in a dictionary. (And I can’t tell you what a relief it was when I finally figured out that I don’t have to memorize the answer to every possible writing conundrum before I could call myself a pro.)

Here are a couple of interesting things I've look up in dictionaries recently.


This one came up in an article I was editing, in a sentence like “accessories metamorphosize an entire ensemble.” I wasn’t so sure. I checked Webster's New World and Dictionary.com. No such word. But, from their entries, I could tell that the writer wanted verb metamorphose. No "ize." So accessories can  metamorphose an ensemble, but the dictionary says they don’t do it with an “ize.”


A lot of people think that CIA, FBI, and IBM are acronyms. And I wouldn't be surprised if dictionaries soon start to reflect this common usage.  But, according to Webster’s New World, initials do not an acronym make: “a word formed from the first (or first few) letters of a series of words, as radar, from radio detecting and ranging”

In other words, if you pronounce each letter individually, it’s just initials (or, if you prefer, an initialism). Only if you use those letters to form a new word does it count as an acronym.


Before I saw it in print, I would have guessed this was three words. Or at least two. But no, according to Webster's New World, this one-word spelling of this adverb is correct.

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