Scott Hardie | January 27, 2017
Whenever I look up a tipping guide online to see how much of a gratuity I should leave, it bugs me when the article explains the origin of the word "tips" as "to insure prompt service." Even if you don't know the actual origin of the word, this should seem wrong on its face, because:

1) In this context, the correct verb would be "ensure," not insure. Two different words, people!

2) How do you ensure prompt service with money paid after the service is done? I've heard it said that it's to ensure prompt service next time by the same workers, but that's not what the acronym spells.

3) I'm supposed to believe that we developed a plural word "tips" out of an acronym first, then developed the singular "tip" later, when tips are given one at a time? I've heard it said that that the real phrase is "to insure promptness" or "to insure performance" but that ignores the first two problems.

Words: What do they mean?

Do you have any word-related pet peeves of your own, etymological or otherwise?

Samir Mehta | January 27, 2017
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Matthew Preston | January 27, 2017
Could the "insure" actually be referring to an insurance policy? Here's some extra cash I'm planning on spending on the meal, but I get to keep it if service sucks? Probably not, but I could see someone using that as an excuse for misspelling ensure.

My word related pet peeve is the use of a redundant word when saying an acronym. For example:

"I'm going to use my PIN number at the ATM machine." The "N" in PIN stands for number and the "M" in ATM stands for machine. So essentially you just said: "I'm going to use my personal identification number number at the automatic teller machine machine."

Acronyms were created to shorten/condense phrases and you just made it longer! Scott, you pointed out a fun exception to this once though back when we were watching an episode of ER in our dorm room. A patient came in with a GSW which is short for "gun shot wound". You pointed out that saying GSW actually takes more syllables than simply saying the full phrase. So awesome!

Scott Hardie | January 27, 2017
I suspect that "to insure prompt service" is just a backronym designed to spread a bit of mildly interesting folklore that people pass along without questioning it, similar to "for unlawful carnal knowledge." But I hear you, Samir, about cynical attitudes toward gratuities. Incidentally, I looked up that tipping guide today to see how much to tip the new handyman, and I discovered why the previous handyman that I hired last month never returned my calls after the first visit: I thought I had tipped him generously, but apparently it's rude to tip a handyman because it implies that he's an unskilled laborer. I had no idea. I think of myself as polite and reasonably savvy about etiquette, but there's a whole rule system of tipping manners that continues to elude me.

Good point about -osis instead of -itis, Samir. But I wouldn't want to rob the world of The Boondocks's itis.

Good interpretation of "insure," Matthew. Before writing the above, I thought about whether they actually meant insure, but it didn't make sense: What, you were going to pay the tip and then collect more money later if you were disappointed? But you're right, of course. I hadn't thought of that interpretation.

I have no idea whether ER was realistic in portraying emergency-room staff saying "GSW" aloud. If so, I bet it developed not as shorthand, but because the letters "GSW" appear on paperwork so often that the staff just got used to the letters instead of the words. This reminds me that Kelly once made fun of me for saying "etc" aloud instead of et cetera, and it took my pride a while to appreciate that she was correct: You can say an acronym aloud like "PM" or "AD" or "NBC," but you shouldn't say an abbreviation aloud. When I tell someone my address, I say "avenue east" not "ave e." Anyway, this conversation took a weird tangent, SNS.

Samir Mehta | January 27, 2017
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Scott Hardie | January 27, 2017
I usually just search online when I wonder how much to tip; there are tons of articles and recommendations out there. Here's the one I found this morning.

I am bewildered by the growth, too. I remember when 10% was the standard tip for restaurant wait staff, or 15% if you were feeling generous. It crept up to 15/20%, now it's 20/25%. The argument that "their pay should rise with inflation" makes no sense since it's a percentage of the bill. Is the bill not rising with inflation?

Another pet peeve: When you treat someone to a nice dinner out as a gift, and they insist on covering the tip, and they're a cheapskate who stiffs the wait staff with a tiny tip, especially when the service has been good. If they're not going to pony up for a decent tip, then I wish they'd stop being so "nice" and let you pay for it with the bill. What's that old advice about judging someone's character not by how they treat you, but by how they treat the wait staff?

Steve West | January 28, 2017
I may have ranted about this one before and it's the use of the term co-conspirator. There cannot be a conspiracy of one therefore anyone else involved is a conspirator. "Co-" is redundant.

Studying Latin educated me on the proper pronunciation of the consonant "v" as the English consonant "w". Therefpre a phrase like "veni, vidi, vici" should be pronounced whennie weedee weekee. When people say vennie veedee veechee it bugs the crap out of me. I'm not sure why it should but it does.

I hate the pervasive misuse and misspelling of the words "your and you're" and "there, their, and they're".

Ditto on "affect" - "effect", Samir. Oh, I have more.

Scott Hardie | May 20, 2022
Steve, today I thought of your feelings about "co-conspirator" when writing documentation for a website that talked about "rerouting traffic to other domains" and "redirecting users to other pages" and so on. The "re" prefix is redundant in those words too, isn't it?

Steve West | May 20, 2022
Insanely redundant!

Evie Totty | May 21, 2022
Before I click through the link on the origin of tips, I am of the impression (through research when someone bitched about how Americans get tipped for everything one day when I posted "tip your delivery drivers!") that it is rooted in racism.

We need to abolish tipping like they have in most places.

Also - it's not even really a tip when you do it before you receive my service (I deliver for DoorDash and UberEats): it is a bid. But DoorDash has fucked that up. They hide a portion of the tip. But the amount isn't mathable. (If there is an algorithm, it's too complex to figure out while driving.)

Example: i received a Tijuana Flats order to Siesta with an offer of $7. $3 of that is what DD pays me, the rest would be the tip. (For reference it would have been a 20 - 30m drive time one way.) DD pays us between $2.25 and $7.25 depending on distance. Most of mine are in the $3 - $3.25 range.

I could see it was 15 items and it told me it also contained alcohol, so I rolled the dice. The order actually paid a $60 tip. (Of which I only received half because the driver before me stole the order and TF did not remake it.)

For those of you reading who now wonder what you should tip your driver: it depends. It's unfortunate that DD hides the tip because folks DO tip well to "insure" good and prompt service - but that $7 thing only ensures many declines until it gets to the bottom of the quality driver barrel - which is probably why it was stolen. (I believe UberEats also hides tips now as well.)

Regardless: putting DD's shittiness aside, we should be making $20 - $30/hour. To some who think that is excessive, let me point out that covers the wear and tear of our car and gas (yes, we write it off, but it still shortens its lifespan) not to mention our risk of catching COVID and the supah scary reality that some drivers get robbed and/or murdered. (I do not accept offers that take me to shady neighborhoods, but that guarantees nothing and the reality is that I have experienced poor tipping - and poor reviews for some reason and that's why I don't.)

SO. If I'm driving 45 minutes from a restaurant to deliver your food, the tip needs to be an hour and a half's worth (after all, I saved you that hour and a half + the trouble of clothing yourself). That's $30 - $45. But I would be happy with $25 IF you lived near other places I could receive my next order from (meaning the turnaround isn't really 45m).

However - If you are ordering from say, Ruth's Chris, I have come to expect a 20% tip. Because that's what I've been conditioned to expect from high-dollar orders. I received a $56 tip the other day from an RC order from UberEats - travel time was an hour total: there and back to the nearest place I could possibly receive an order from that tips decently - no, McDonald's doesn't count. BTW that came in as $18 and due to the distance, the tip only appeared to be $8. Uber pays about $3 as well, but makes you pay mileage if over a certain value.

It really is unfortunate that DD hides the tip (they do so to make sure the poor tippers/low orders get delivered as well) because those who do "bid" well to make sure they receive good service might not end up getting that service. (The TF order probably had that family waiting an hour or more from order placement to cancelation before finding out they weren't receiving it.) The only way to change that is for the customers to rise up. We can't do anything about it. Do we have a case? Yup. But folks who have looked into hiring a lawyer to handle it have been unable to find one.

I've been shown "proof" where DD said they showed us the entire offer when they filed with the SEC, but I haven't verified it.

Oh back to the little orders like McDonald's and Wendy's etc. Those places make us wait in line at the drive-thru (at least if the lobby is closed). So even if you live two blocks away, I'm waiting a half hour or more to get your food, so keep that in mind.

Oh "What about a cash tip? I want to tip after for good service." Sorry, too many don't. I worked for a year and a half before cherry-picking my orders and in that time (500 deliveries or more) only one person paid cash after. You're literally asking for shitty service (because no matter the algorithm, if it says $2.25 - we know it's $2.25). You COULD tip a minimum "good" amount and tip more cash upon a good delivery (I have received a few of those, probably 20 in the 3000 deliveries I've done.)


My pet peeve words are also affect/effect. I literally use "can this be a special effect?" in the rare cases I'm unsure. And overuse of "that" - if the sentence makes sense without it, leave it out.

Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk.

Scott Hardie | May 24, 2022
I had not heard of the racist history of tipping in America until now, but it is profoundly unsurprising. I already firmly supported ending the practice and this just makes me more convinced that it needs to end. As a professional web developer, I would not labor for a pittance now and a chance of being paid correctly at the end of the project if my employer feels generous, so why should the people who labor for me work that way? It's absurd, and that's before it's made worse by shady practices like DoorDash hiding the tips from drivers until the work is complete.

Scott Hardie | August 20, 2023
Regarding "co-conspirator": Lately I have become irked by the similarly redundant prefix in the word "preheat." Preheating the oven *is* heating the oven; it's not as though there's a second additional step involved. I thought perhaps there was a period in history where it was common to place uncooked food into a cold oven and then begin to warm it, but my online search turns up nothing like that. My best guess, unverified by anything I can find, is that the word was developed in the interest of public safety, since the earliest owners of modern ovens with their newfangled dials might have mistakenly thought that they had "heated" the oven merely by setting the desired temperature and thus could insert their food immediately. Modern dial-controlled ovens began to enter homes in the 1840s and 1850s, and the word first appeared in print in the 1860s. But that's just a guess, and if it's right, the word has outlived its usefulness anyway.

Regarding "ensure" vs. "insure": I recently saw Top Gun: Maverick and was amused that they kept the same intro text on the screen from the beginning of the last movie, but this time they used the correct word. :-)

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