The ‘Rite’ Word

It might seem a little thing but I am quite impressed that my Rite Aid pharmacy in Pittston knows the proper use of the word “ensure.”
A sign near the pharmaceutical pick-up desk reads: Please Wait Here To Ensure Privacy For All Customers.
Most people aren’t even aware of the word “ensure.” They think it’s always “insure.”
But “insure” should only be used to refer to insurance, like your life insurance policy. “Ensure,” as it is used in the Rite Aid sign, means to “assure” something will happen.
Similarly there is a “compliment” and a “complement” in the English language. And they mean two different things.
“Compliment” should be used when paying a compliment. “I love your new hairdo.”
“Complement” should be used to indicate that one thing completes another. A glass of cold milk complements a chocolate chip cookie.
Again, it might seem a little thing, but several years ago I got a phone call from an editor after I had written a glowing reference for a former student seeking a job. I backed up what I had written with a similar glowing reference over the phone. The editor agreed the young man appeared impressive but he said he couldn’t get past the fact that he had used the wrong version of “compliment” in his cover letter.
The young man did not get the job.
In spite of all my compliments.

Ed Ackerman