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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE! Illustration - Photo by Nikki Dawes

For most people, vision is the way to learn about the world. So it's no wonder that words about sight have flourished in the language.

We glimpse, we glance, we ogle, we eye, we peruse, we gaze. The words have subtle but important differences.

You may see something or look at something. If you want to borrow a book, you may ask to look at it or to see it. Those two words mean the same thing. But if you visit a friend, you'll go see him. You probably wouldn't say, "I'm going to look at Tony." That sounds a bit creepy.

Glimpse and glance have different meanings, though they're often used interchangeably. A glimpse is a brief but incomplete look. Let's say you walk up behind your boss at her computer and glimpse your name in the body of an email, but she hides the message before you can see any more than that. That glimpse may cause you some concern.

A glance is a quick look that nonetheless does what you intended. You may glance at your watch for just a second, but you'll be able to see what time it is.

A gaze is a long look that is either unthinking or done with longing. A stare is a long look that may be rude or may stem from surprise. Ogling has a lustful connotation.

When you eye someone or something, you are ruminating while doing so. Often it's followed by an action of some kind.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has two nearly opposite definitions for "peruse.'' The first says that to peruse is to read something in a relaxed way. The second says to peruse is to read something carefully. The Oxford Dictionaries website, though, says perusing involves careful inspection.

To peek is to take a quick, sneaky look. If someone asks you to behold something, it had better be something special. When you peer at something, you may have trouble seeing it, but it intrigues you enough to make you concentrate on it.

She glimpsed the tail of Daniel Craig's tuxedo as his manager whisked him out the door.

His wife glanced at the game score to see how his mood would be the rest of the day.

The boy gazed at the falling snow, hoping school would close for the day.

The man's unending stare made her wonder whether she had spinach in her teeth.

He eyed the last piece of devil's food cake until temptation got the best of him.

Behold the Great Wall of China.


Amount and number are two different things. Amount is a word for things that can't be counted, only described in terms of volume. Number is for things that can be counted or have a quantity.

That's a large amount of cookie dough.

That will make a large number of cookies.

In describing a crowd:

Wrong: The authorities are expecting a large amount of people to attend.

Right: The authorities are expecting a large number of people to attend.

"Count nouns" are those that can be numbered. Examples are endless: pounds, items, pebbles, chocolate chips.

Things that can't be quantified are called "mass nouns." They are preceded by indefinite terms such as "some," "certain" and "much." Examples include courage, enthusiasm, irony, air.

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionaries,,,

Reach Bernadette at

ActiveStyle on 09/18/2017

Print Headline: 'See' words aplenty, use correct one


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