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Grammar Police Monday - Mistakes of Epidemic Proportion

Below are some words prone to usage errors.  
I'm going to let my, um, nurse-ly science buff side come out and play on the blog today, so kindly indulge me. :)

Endemic vs Epidemic vs Pandemic 
If something is endemic that means it is natural to, confined to, or a characteristic of a people or place.  

Malaria is endemic to the tropics.

An epidemic is the rapid spread or increase in occurrence of something, usually a disease. Epidemic can be used as a noun or an adjective.  

An epidemic of yellow fever struck America in 1850.

The number of novels published without proper editing is reaching epidemic proportions.   (kidding :P)

Pandemic, on the other hand, is greater. 

Sometimes people use epidemic when the proper term is pandemic. If an epidemic is very widespread, crossing international boundaries (intercontinental) and affecting large numbers of people, it has become pandemic. (Ex: the influenza pandemic of 1918)

Entomology vs Etymology 

This one's for Elise. :) 

Entomology is a branch of zoology, the study of insects.

Etymology is the study of words, specifically their derivation or origin.

Do you have a digestive track or a digestive tract?

The correct answer is digestive tract. It may look like a curvy race track, but it's really a tracta series or system of related parts or organs.

Defamation vs deformation 

Defamation is the act of causing false or unjustified injury to the reputation of another, as by slander or libel.   

People sometimes sue for defamation of character.

Deformation is the act or result of causing a change in form; distortion, or disfigurement.

The sudden deformation of a limb can be a sign of a broken bone.

 Thanks for visiting. 
I hope I didn't totally weird you out.


  1. Thank you, THANK you! People mess this up all the time and after a while it drives me insane.

    them: "What did you get your degree in?"

    me: "Entomology;"

    them: "Oh....that's like the study of words, right?"

    me: "Eh, no. I study bugs." (well insects to be technically correct. (; )

  2. Great post, Melissa. Thanks for those. I've just started subscribing to your posts. I think I might store these away for reference. You're awesome :)

    1. Thank you, Melissa. That's kind of you! :)

      If you haven't found it yet, there's a page on my blog that links past GPM posts for visitor convenience. I update it from time to time. >>>

  3. Good stuff!

    I have yet another request for you... :)

    The proper format for ellipses. Are they - as above - three consecutive periods OR should they be three periods separated by a space. Also, do they or don't they require another period - without an extra space - if they end a sentence. I'm reading conflicting recommendations on this and it's causing me to lose hair. Help!

    1. Thanks. :)

      Ooo. Good one. I'll have to research that and get back to you. *rolls up sleeves*

  4. No, you made it really clear. I'd have to ponder what words confuse me.

  5. I have words I just flat-out avoid, because I can't quite get them straight in my wee little mind. Thanks for clearing up a few potential misuses.

    1. Ha- you and me both. If it wasn't for, I'd embarrass myself all the time! :D

  6. "The number of novels published without proper editing is reaching epidemic proportions."

    Hah! I love the humor you use in these lessons. :)

  7. The differences between the -demic words is good to know, especially these days when epidemic is fairly popular in common speech. Although pandemic seems to be gradually replacing it. I don't know if people are correct more often or if pandemic is just more fun to say.

    1. I used to think they were opposite. Epidemic sounds worse. :P

  8. Funny, I was just researching the difference between epidemic and pandemic. Looks like I picked the wrong one. Glad I came across this post. Helpful as always.

  9. For a long time immigration and emigration always got mixed up in my head!

    1. Ooo, good. Another request. I'll add it to the 'by request' post I'm building. :)

  10. You are awesome. I love this stuff. Thanks for clearing that all up for me. there were a couple there I've always struggled with! :)

    1. Thanks! The lessons are good refreshers for me, too. :)


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