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 Post subject: right word wrong word
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 5:14 am 
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Speaking of discrete/discreet (thanks, Phaedrus), for years in teaching and in editing, I've used this expression: "The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." I got it from a college textbook as attributed to Mark Twain (however, college textbooks are rife with errors). But at least once, I've heard this version: "The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between lightning bolt and lightning bug," which makes much more sense.

I'd like to find out what the original expression was and if Twain actually said it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 7:43 am 
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Well, Luna, if you've been using this one "for years," I'd say it's about time you got it right. :wink: It goes:

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
-Mark Twain, Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888
http://www.twainquotes.com/Lightning.html

Over the yearss, the quote has become known popularly as the first way you have it:
The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
~Mark Twain
http://www2.gasou.edu/writenow/myfavquotations.htm

The second version [that "makes much more sense"] seems to be a more modern day one:
The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between the lightning bolt and the lightning bug (apologies to Mark Twain).
~from the personal webpage of Katie Roche
http://www.admissions.tcu.edu/freshman.asp

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference between the right word and the wrong word may be the difference between a fire and...a firefly.
~found at http://www.timezone.com/wwwboard/BB/messages/139.html


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 3:32 pm 
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QuoteMaster
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Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2002 5:38 am
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Location: Carolina coast
Oooh, tn, you got me right between the eyes.

Ak... you got me Pahdnuh.
(cough... cough)
Hold me close, Red. It's a
gettin' dark.
(cough)
Tell Auntie Em to let Old Yeller
out.
(cough... cough)
Tell Tint Tim I won't be makin'
it home for Christmas.
(cough)
Tell Scarlet I do give a damn...
I... I... UUG!

(Know where that's from?)

All joking aside, thanks for helping me get to the bottom of that mystery, thenostromo. I knew I could count on you.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 4:29 pm 
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Image
http://www.cameron-diaz.hu/film/scripts/mask.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 4:36 pm 
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Righteous!

(I LOVE that movie!)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 4:53 pm 
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My favorite quote from that flick is...
..."somebody stop me!"
http://www.filmstransit.com/somebody.html


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2002 4:54 pm 
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QuoteMaster

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Location: Carolina coast
Mine's "Smokin'!"


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