What comes to mind when you hear or see the word “manor”? You might envision a lovely, stately home in rural England. Perhaps you imagine women with curly up-dos gliding around a parlor or ballroom in empire-waist dresses, pretending to ignore the well-dressed, sophisticated men around them. Whatever you picture, you probably think of something that seems proper. Just thinking about the word “manor” so much makes me want to whip out the good china and drink tea from a dainty cup, keeping my pinky finger elegantly elevated!
Now, let’s consider the word “manner.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with this word: it’s a nice, solid word! However, it likely does not induce lofty thoughts in your mind. Broadly speaking, a manner is a way or type. It’s pretty simple.
I have a feeling that this perceptual difference between the lofty “manor” and the plain “manner” underlies a mistake I’m noticing more and more these days: using “manor” in place of “manner.”
To be honest, this is a very easy error to fix. All that’s needed is an awareness that a manor is a place (or a figurative representation of such a place), and a manner is a way or type. Referring to a manner as a manor doesn’t make a sentence sound or look better: it just introduces unnecessary confusion.
So, let us all pledge to eschew grandiosity gone wrong: manor is manor and manner is manner, and never the twain shall meet. (Except, of course, in the case of the expression “to the manor born,” which arose as an intentional corruption of “to the manner born”—but we can explore that another day!)