Part of speech:
Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units.
Talk about "good kilter," "bad kilter," "off-kilter," "out of kilter," and so on, but don’t say “kilters.”
Kilter is something's proper condition or something's good working order.
When something is in good kilter, it's in good condition and is working like it should.
Something that's off kilter, out of kilter, or in poor kilter is NOT working like it should.
How to use it:
Although you can certainly talk about things being in good kilter or feeling in kilter with something, most often we talk about something being off kilter or out of kilter.
(Write "off kilter" without a hyphen after a linking verb, as in "That comment is so off kilter," and write it with a hyphen before a noun, as in "That's such an off-kilter comment.")
Nearly anything can get off kilter or get all out of kilter: a person, a process, a device, a system, a balance, a performance, a speech, prices, medical treatments, attitudes, approaches, etc.
You might modify the phrase and talk about something being, for example, slightly off kilter or extremely out of kilter. And sometimes the phrase is followed by with to show that something just doesn't work within a situation or just doesn't fit in within a context: "His gloom-and-doom speeches are so out of kilter with these young, optimistic audiences."
My new iPhone is mostly awesome, but the sounds are all off kilter; apps will make sounds, and sounds play just fine in videos, but I can't get any sounds for alarms, text message notifications, or the actual ringing of the phone when someone calls. Arg!
The 20-hour plane trip and the 6-hour time zone difference threw my daughter out of kilter; she couldn't get to sleep until 3:00am.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "kilter" means when you can explain it without saying “proper" or "function."
Think of the last time you noticed someone's bizarre behavior or outrageous comments, and fill in the blank: "_____ seem/seemed truly off kilter with reality."
Example: "The way he keeps spending money on extravagances while he still owes a debt to his cash-strapped parents seems truly off kilter with reality."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for July is called A Verbal Tour of the US. I’ll ask you a trivia question each day this month about the names of US cities, states, geographic features, etc. Try it out each day, and see the right answer the next day. Happy verbal trails to you!
This capital city’s name is French for “red stick,” a reference to a pole marking the boundaries of hunting grounds that explorers in the area discovered. What city is it?
Answer: Baton Rouge, Louisiana!
Try this one today:
If you’re like me, then as a kid you learned how to spell this state’s name with a chant that includes the phrases “crooked letter, crooked letter” and “humpback, humpback.” Which state is it?
A Point Well Made:
David Carr: "I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon."
1. The opposite of KILTER could be
2. With a price out of kilter with the market, the house _____.
A. probably won't sell
B. will attract a moderate amount of interest
C. can appeal only to experienced, savvy buyers
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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