Grammar: do you write ESTs when they should be ERs?

It’s not exactly the end of the world, but did you know if you only have two children you don’t have an ‘oldest’ or ‘eldest?’

writing tips
(Or a ‘youngest,’ for that matter.) Everyone today seems to forget that the suffix ‘est’ should only be used when writing/talking about more than two items, people, etc. If it’s just two, the suffix is ‘er.’ And by the way…

‘Elder-eldest’ or ‘older-oldest?’
According to Merriam Webster, ‘elder’ and ‘eldest’ are only
used to refer to persons, whereas ‘older’ and ‘oldest’ are
used to refer to both persons and things.
More on the
detail of that here if you’re interested! [Read more…]

Vanilla Sex: here – have another helping

Intrepid wordsmith that I am, recently I’ve found much hilarity in the common use of the adjective “vanilla” to describe mediocre, conventional sex.

According to the term vanilla originates from around 1662, from “Sp. Vainilla “vanilla plant” lit. “little pod,” dim. Of vaina “sheath,” from L. vagina “sheath” (see vagina). [Now there’s a coincidence.] So called from the shape of the pods. European discovery 1521 by Hernando Cortes’ soldiers on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico. Meaning “conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences” is 1970s, from notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream.”

Wikipedia agrees:  vanilla sex (or conventional sex) is a description of what a culture regards as standard or conventional sexual behaviour. Different cultures, subcultures and individuals have different ideas about what constitutes this type of sex. Often, it is interpreted as sex which does not involve such elements as BDSMkink, or fetish activities.

So can we use “vanilla” as an adjective for things other than sex? E.G…

[Read more…]