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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Poring or pouring?

If you read a book intently, you don't pour over it, but pore over it (unless you at the same time douse it bizarrely with a liquid). Perhaps this mistake is so common because we don't know either verb's origin. “Pour” (which used to rhyme with “hour”), might be related to the word “purée”. But the verb “pore” is a mystery. The pores in the skin, from a Greek word meaning a channel in the body, are unrelated. Nonetheless, thinking of how closely you have to peer at pores to see them may help you to remember how to spell the verb meaning “scrutinize intently”.

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.