Let’s keep this short and sweet, shall we? Now I will admit up front that I’m perfectly comfortable correcting the grammar of people I know (and random strangers on the internet, I’m only human.) I will also admit that I have also made errors myself (again, only human.) However, due to my love of language and linguistics, once I find out a rule that helps fill the void inside me, I will let you know.
Confused? I don’t blame you. So for example, a good friend of mine tweeted something mildly mind-blowing the other day. The word ‘slang’ stands for shortened language… therefore slang is slang! Now maybe that was obvious, in which case I apologize. Maybe it’s not even true, I probably should check, but I love the idea of it too much to risk disappointment.
However, a new pet peeve of mine that I have certainly indulged in at many points throughout time, is that of the “anniversary.” I have no qualms with you having an anniversary, go right on ahead! But do you use it correctly? Welcome to anniversary 101!
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word anniversary as:
The date on which an event took place or an institution was founded in a previous year.
Now, do tell me, have you ever wished your other half a ‘happy one month anniversary’? I hate to tell you, but that doesn’t exist…
Simply put, anniversary is based on the Latin “annum” meaning “year.” If we want to celebrate a an event that recurs each month, you should turn to the Latin word, mensis. That means that your “one month anniversary” is actually your mensiversary. Welcome to language!
MEN-SI-VER-SA-RY (mèn´se-vûr´se-rê) noun
1. The monthly recurring date of a past event, especially one of historical, national, or personal importance: a first date mensiversary; the mensiversary of the founding of Nerstone Pictures.
2. A celebration commemorating such a date. from Latin: mensis, month + versus, past participle of vertere, to turn.
And yet, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) defines ‘anniversary’ as:
The annual recurrence of a date marking a notable event; broadly: a date that follows such an event by a specified period of time measured in units other than years.
This is a neologism! It’s like having selfie in the dictionary, so please, be technical and correct.
If anyone calls you a prude or a geek, take it in your stride and be the best pedant you can be.