Religious References: Heavenly words

May 14, 2009: Issue 289

Here’s how to treat some words that describe bliss.

capitalize in all references
Tour a lush backyard Eden.

lowercase unless you’re referring to the place where God lives
With a fancy new paper trimmer, this scrapbooker was in heaven.
Serious illness often brings up kids’ questions about God and Heaven.

capitalize in all references
Storage is the key to kitchen Nirvana.

lowercase in all references
Perfectly grilled ribs must be the food of paradise.

lowercase unless you’re literally referring to a perfect society
The annual show is a quilter’s utopia.
Unless you live in a Utopia, stress sneaks into your life every day.

About that geography question: Reader Talley Sue Hohlfeld explained why it’s proper to use city and state names as modifiers. They’re not adjectives in this case but attributive nouns. As to why the same isn’t true of most country names, she suggested that we don’t need to make countries into attributive nouns because they already have adjectival forms (France/French, China/Chinese). We’ll buy that, Talley Sue. Thanks, and there’s a prize on the way.

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