I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think it Means…


Subtitled:  Our editors prefer princess seams.

I’ve been a bit lax on my editor’s blogging duties, but this is a fun topic for me.

This last round of submissions, I have seen a larger than usual number of good stories marred by obviously wrong words.  These are usually homonyms, but I have seen some great examples of writers just not knowing the actual word.

My personal top five:

1.  CO2 – C4.  They planted the CO2 explosives in the basement.  This was actually done twice by two different authors.

2.  Compile – Comply.  Compile with our demands or else …

3.  Irradiated – Eradicated.  …or else you will be irradiated from this Earth.  Yeah, these were in the same piece.

2.  Dribble – Drivel.   It was just a bunch of superstitious dribble.

And #1.  A-line – B-line.  As in:  He made an A-line for the room.  I almost needed a new keyboard.

Really, I just want to point out that writers need to have their pieces read by a few other people before trying to sell them.  Oh, and dictionary.com is your friend.  When in doubt, look it up.  Otherwise you may end up being unintentionally hilarious.

I tried to change the sentences up a little from what they actually were when we read them.  Just my little way of not embarrassing the authors.

Happy writing.  Keep submitting!  Toodles.


8 Responses to “I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think it Means…”

  1. Pam Sears says:

    I loved this! Although, I have to say even editors miss what later seems obvious. I recently read a novel that used “acception” instead of “exception” (i.e. …was the ‘acception’ to the rule.). Besides being amused, the (would-be) writer in me wants to correct them (not to mention the editors who missed it!).

  2. Desmond says:

    If I see one more writer refer to the “tenants” of his religion, or refer to a change in approach as trying a different “tact,” I won’t be held responsible for the consequences.

  3. It’s refreshing to see an editor take pains to ensure correct spelling. It’s understandable that submissions may need editing, but when I see a lot of errors in published work, I blame the editor first. Murphy’s Law of Finger-Pointing being what it is, you may want to change that “B-line” to “beeline,” which is the only spelling of which my dictionary approves.

  4. Sara says:

    Tons of authors use careen, rather than career to describe their characters swerving around objects. It aggravates me to no end, because, frankly, how can editors miss this?

  5. Virginia says:

    “Career” means to swerve around objects?!?!?!?!?! Really?

  6. if that’s true, then i’ve been careering around a career.

  7. Pat Whitaker says:

    As F.J.Bergman points out B-line should be bee-line, as in “as the crow flies”.

  8. Happened to check back in. Sara, “careen” means “to sway or lean while in motion.” As a verb, “career” does refer to motion, but it means “to charge straight ahead” or “to rush headlong,” rather than to swerve. “Careening” is not swerving, exactly, but with many wheeled vehicles, leaning or tilting will automatically generate swerving.

    More pet peeves: “reign in” and “bored of.” It’s either “reign over,” i.e., rule; or “rein in,” i.e., slow or stop a horse. Both are frequently used as metaphors for control, and have the same pronunciation, which is where the confusion arises. Two expressions that are nearly identical in meaning, but require different prepositions, are “tired of” and “bored with.”

    Last, “affect” and “effect,” which can both be either nouns or verbs, and are NOT interchangeable. As a noun, “effect” refers to the result or outcome of a process or action: “An unexpected effect of the rain was that her clothing dissolved.” “Affect” as noun refers to emotion and mood, and is used only in psychology: “The new medication caused his affect to flatten and turned his skin a gloomy shade of blue.” As verb, “affect” means to alter something that exists or is already in process: “She affected the outcome of the war by transmitting a social disease through the ranks as quickly as her skills permitted.” “Effect” is less common as a verb. and means to make happen or bring into being–the difference is subtle, but significant: “The general effected the removal of his entire army from the field of battle by ordering every man who had been exposed to the disease to report immediately for medical treatment.”

Leave a Reply