Buy book | Amazon  | BN.com

Unfortunate English

The Gloomy Truth Behind the Words You Use
by Bill Brohaugh
Writer's Digest Books, 2006
ISBN 978-1-58297-443-9
$18.99 hardcover, 224 pages

Image placeholder title

About the Book
What sensitivities are you secretly offending when you use the words poppycock, bonfire, and porcelain? What political incorrectness are you courting when you describe someone or something as ethnic? Who have you insulted, what sensitivity have you jostled, what breach of propriety have you committed when you use such remarkably innocent words as butterfly, gymnasium, and fizzle?

Unfortunate English uncovers older meanings of words that are out of joint with almost everyone’s sense of propriety—word histories that reveal the deintensification of the disgusting, the generalization of the ribald, the mutation of the offensive, and occasionally the sensationalizing of the innocent.

So open the book and start having fun … or maybe you shouldn't, considering that fun originally meant … well, something different.


About the Author

Bill Brohaugh is the author of Write Tight, about concision in writing (ISI Books), and The Grill of Victory, a profile of the competition barbecue circuit (Emmis Books). For Writer’s Digest Books, he is the author or editor of Professional Etiquette for Writers, English Through the Ages and Just Open a Vein. He has written several hundred published or produced magazine articles and short radio pieces. He can spell “eclectic.”

Texas Monthly: Market Spotlight

Texas Monthly: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Texas Monthly, an Austin-based regional magazine focused on stories about Texas and Texans.

Allusion vs. Elusion vs. Illusion (Grammar Rules)

Allusion vs. Elusion vs. Illusion (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between allusion, elusion, and illusion with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Guidelines

Prepare for the 14th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Visit WritersDigest.com each day of November to get a prompt and write a poem. Then, use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript.

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

How I Broke Into the Traditional Publishing World as an Indie Author

Learn the process indie author Amanda Aksel went through in getting her novel Delia Suits Up traditionally published, including questions she asked herself and weighing one strategy against the other.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: 6 New WDU Courses, An Upcoming Webinar, a Competition Deadline, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce 6 new WDU Courses, an upcoming webinar, a competition deadline, and more!

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

Working With a Nonfiction Book Publisher Throughout the Process

A publisher accepting your manuscript is just the beginning, not the end. Author Rick Lauber discusses how to work with a nonfiction book publisher from query letter to release date and beyond.

From Script

Writing Empowered Superheroes in CWs Supergirl and Understanding Animation From the Trenches (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by Script Magazine, story editor Katiedid “Did” Langrock speaks with Reckless Creatives podcast. Plus, one-on-one interview with CWs Supergirl actress turned scribe Azie Tesfai about her groundbreaking episode and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: The Characterless Character

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is writing a characterless character.

When Is My Novel Ready to Read: 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers

When Is My Novel Ready to Read: 7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers

Fiction editor and author Kris Spisak ties together her seven processes for self-editing novels, including editorial road-mapping, character differentiation analysis, reverse editing, and more.