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I didn;t say I never use a dictionary. However, I don't regard dictionaries a the be-all and end-all defning law-books of language. Languages evolve faster than dictionaried do, if you really haven;t noticed.

Oh, we've noticed, all right. It's just that when you undertake a usage without checking the dictionary or otherwise knowing whether it's idiomatic, you run a serious risk of screwing up. Of course, we all screw up. The real vice is getting defensive and refusing to either justify the usage or admit the error. But no one posting to this thread would ever do such a thing, not even one-note visitors.
Anyway, there seem to be too many ignorant idiots in this group for me, so I'm out of here.

If that's your standard you must spend a lot of time leaving places.
Thanks again to the folks who offered genuine intelligent help.

You found such people and yet you're leaving. You really are fussy.
I assume the foregoing qualifies me as one of the "many ignorant idiots."(1)
(1) How many idiots qualify as knowledgeable?

Liebs
The way I used the word is quite commonplace, as ... not, I don't know. I can't be bothered to look!

Luke, I suggest that using words in a way that is normal to the widest possible readership might be more important than the issue of American/British spelling differences.

A brief search of Google (first 100 hits for "avail it" and for "avail the"),
besides turning up a lot of accidental conjunctions like "avail. The" and "to no avail, it", does turn up a non-reflexive, transitive use that is new to me (i.e. not as in "artifices will not avail the sinner in the day of judgement", of which there was a certain amount).

In this use, the word means "gain access to", "take advantage of", as in "avail this opportunity", avail the benefits". At least this looks like some kind of defensible back-formation from "available".

Didn't find anything like your version, though. CDB
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2) Write out the name of the element "Al" to determine which spelling system to use.

Why that example in particular? It would certainly be a poor diagnostic for standard Canadian spellings; it's one of the ... nouns "curb", "jail", and "tire", with some of the "draft(-)" words, are the only others I can think of offhand.

It was the only word that I could think of that would convey the concept without giving a hint of which I might prefer. Your words are excellent, but by just spelling them, you show a preference.
GFH
(some comment and attribution snipped)
No dount you (Mike or Daniel) can tell us all a shorter word that has the same meaning... If not, I'll happily continue to make good use of the word "avail".

Well, it's not very good use of 'avail' because it's going to make half your readers choke on their cornflakes ...
In that original context:
... the article in question is a self-published thing that I avail to my clients via the web and in hard-copy form.

"avail" is being used quite unusually. One would normally say that your clients avail themselves of the content, or that you make it available to them, or possibly that you avail your clients with the article though that last smacks of archaism, to me.
As a simple alternative for the word "avail" in your original sentence I might suggest "offer" as being more natural than "avail" and of no greater length, or "give" as being shorter though of not quite the same meaning.
Personally, I'd go for "make available to" and damn the length.

Cheers,
Daniel.
I assume the foregoing qualifies me as one of the "many ignorant idiots."(1) (1) How many idiots qualify as knowledgeable?

I reckon I'm one.

Mike.
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I assume the foregoing qualifies me as one of the "many ignorant idiots."(1) (1) How many idiots qualify as knowledgeable?

I reckon I'm one.

"Reckon," eh? That would tend to suggest that you don't know, and if you don't know you're not knowledgeable. Q.E.D.

Welcome to the club, Mike.

Liebs
I reckon I'm one.

"Reckon," eh? That would tend to suggest that you don't know, and if you don't know you're not knowledgeable. Q.E.D.

Depends on which meaning of reckon he meant.

Ray
Oh, we've noticed, all right. It's just ... it's idiomatic, you run a serious risk of screwing up.[/nq]PMFJI, but the way Luke used the word "avail" is often heard (in England, at least), and it was certainly crystal clear to me what he meant. It may or may not be good English according to the grammar books (yet) but then a lot of what we use in everyday discussion, is not strictly "good English". I'm very surprised at the people here who claimed not to have heard that use of the word before. A Google search turned up over 150 instances of it. If it's not exactly "commonplace" usage, as Luke claims, I think it probably will be one day - simple because it is such an efficient way of saying "make available to".

I am surprised that "make available" is not listed in my dictionary as one of the meanings of "available". I bet it will be one day, and may well be already in some dictionaries. As Luke rightly said, the dictionaries list new usages of words every time a new edition is published. I'm sure this usage of the word "avail" will be one day. It may well already be in some dictionaries.
In any case, I can sympathise with Luke getting hacked off. It's annoying when you come here to discuss something specific and possibly of interest to many readers (I being one), and one or more nit-picking pedant waters down the topic with quips about this or that usage of a word or this or that grammatical slip, when it has no relevance to the topic of the thread. For God's sake, if they want to take issue with in that manner, they should start a new thread! I've noticed that the nit-pickers are usually the folks who don't have anything useful to contribute to the thread too.

It strikes me as a childish form of pure egotism - a means of getting attention. ("Hey, everybody, see how clever *I* am!" sort of style.) I don't think it's at all clever. I think it's rather childish and destructive and it degrades an otherwise great group.
Kat (England)
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PMFJI, but the way Luke used the word "avail" is often heard (in England, at least), and it was certainly ... it's at all clever. I think it's rather childish and destructive and it degrades an otherwise great group. Kat (England)

"Cat" begins with a c.

Mike.
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