Today the Huffington Post tweeted an old article on usage by editor Zoe Triska. The subject: nauseated vs. nauseous. That’s a good one that has confused me before. Most editors are well versed in the usual usage suspects: alternate/alternative, loath/loathe, flaunt/flout, historic/historical, principal/principle, farther/further, and so on.
One usage distinction that recently came to my attention was that of anticipate/expect. I had always considered them synonyms, and indeed the Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists the second definition of anticipate as “expect,” but notes that this is disputed. The first definition of anticipate is “foresee and deal with ahead of time.” The first definition of expect is “regard as likely.” So if you anticipate rain this afternoon, you will dig out your umbrella before leaving the house. If you expect rain, you won’t be surprised when it starts doing just that on your parade, which you couldn’t be bothered to cancel. In Line by Line, author Claire Kehrwald Cook writes that sometimes either word will fit the bill, but in such cases, expect may sound more natural.