Lessons: Rectangles Include Squares

I am a word nerd. When words have very specific meanings and are not used correctly, or are used ambiguously, I react.

For example, a rectangle is a four-sided shape with all four interior angles measuring 90°. In other words, with all four corners as right angles. Opposite sides are parallel and the same length.

A square is a special type of rectangle. The difference is that squares have all four sides the same length.

The problem occurs in using the word “rectangle” to mean “non-square rectangle.” Rectangles include squares. So to be accurate, I would always need to amend it by saying “non-square rectangles” if I mean “non-square rectangles.” Correct, but awkward, huh?

So the solution is to be incorrect, at least a lot of the time. It will make my skin crawl, but when I use the term “rectangle,” generally I will mean “non-square rectangle.”

Questions? Comments? Do you have pet word peeves? (Please reassure me that I’m not alone in this!) 


18 thoughts on “Lessons: Rectangles Include Squares

  1. zippyquilts

    I am a grammar nut too, though I have abandoned a lot of my pet peeves. Probably my worst gripe is with the confusion of “I” and “me”, but I think that train has left the station and I just need to adjust. Sigh.

  2. Quilt Musings

    I am a bit of a grammar and word usage nazi, though I do try to control myself. Less and fewer definitely pushes my buttons, and currently there are a number of commercials on tv that drive me nuts because of incorrect usage. Luckily the specifics have slipped my mind for the moment!

  3. Tammy

    This reminds me of my many years years teaching geometry to my third grade classes. And also of my husband who shares your penchant for the exact correctness of the words I use. “Do you want a banana or strawberries?” I might say, and am still frustrated after 39 years when his answer is “Yes.” So he gets his own snacks!

  4. KerryCan

    I have 1000 pet peeves about the way words are used! Right now I am especially annoyed by the use of “impactful” and “gifted”–“I was gifted a sweater, which has been impactful in keeping me warm.” Makes me twitch!

  5. knitnkwilt

    I remember once being told, “Be strict with yourself but lenient with others.” That is my approach to these word switches. So long as i can tell what is intended, that is what I read. But when I write I try to be correct.

      1. katechiconi

        Spellcheck has much to answer for… Time was, we had to know the difference, now the machines think they know better and most of us let our machines boss us around. I have it turned off. Sometimes I commit a blooper, but at least it’s *my* blooper.

  6. shoreacres

    “Less” and “fewer” do it for me. A quilt with fewer squares would use less material. A quilt with less squares is a scandal and an offense — no matter how pretty!


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