Sunday, July 18, 2010


Much adieu about nothing

Here’s a phrase I’ve seen written a number of times recently: without [any] further adieu.


It’s ado, meaning trouble, bother, fuss. Without any more fuss, I will bring out our guest of honour. There you go. It’s based on do, as in a [big] to-do.

Adieu is, of course, French for goodbye, from à dieu, to god. The phrase in question simply makes no sense at all with that in there. Pas du tout.

Now, with no further ado: adieu.


HRH said...

I think another miss used phrase is, "in a sense", in place of "in essence"?

Barry Leiba said...

Mm, that's a tricky one: both phrases exist and make sense, but they mean different things. So you have to look at the meaning to see if the writer is misusing them.

And, so, they're different from "further adieu", "I should of done [something]", "he reigned in his anger", and others like those, which are always wrong.

Nathaniel Borenstein said...

Adieu believe you're as pedantic as I am, but I'm afraid there's nothing 'ado about it.

Thomas J. Brown said...

Wait, people actually write that? I guess I shouldn't be surprised by these things anymore.

The whole, "should of done" thing bugs me to no end.

The "got milk?" campaign awhile back was cute, but it didn't help people use English very well. So made this shirt.

Susan said...

One I see often is "for all intensive purposes." I think this is because people do not understand the meaning of "for all intents and purposes." Reminds me of when I was a teenager, negligent driving was called "driving without due care and attention." Without trying to be funny, many called it "undue care and attention", as in "he lost his license for undue care and attention."

losancia said...

I think you should have tried to find information about the sentence before rejecting it as if it were a simple misquotation.
The sentence is in fact a witty pun found at the end of I. Asimov's "About Nothing". The play on Shakespeare's title ("Much Ado about Nothing") immediately becomes obvious for those who read the story. The problem is, you have to read the story.

Barry Leiba said...

Yeah, except that's not the phrase I'm writing about. But, well, you'd have to read the post to know that, eh?