Big companies are adverse to publicity — and the bigger the company, the more adverse.” Nope. “Adverse” means “negative” or “bad”; we wouldn’t say the companies were “bad to publicity.” The writer meant they were opposed to it, uneasy about it, and the word he wanted was “averse.” A few paragraphs later, he wrote about “heavy adverse publicity,” and that was just right.

Evan Jenkins wrote the Language Corner column for CJR through the Fall of 2007.