Posted by: episystechpubs | September 5, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Pigeon Fanciers Unite!

I received an e-mail yesterday about the terms home in vs. hone in, and I was shocked to learn that I’ve been using the wrong phrase. Here is some information from The Grammarist (http://grammarist.com/usage/home-in-hone-in/):

Home in means to direct onto a target. The phrasal verb home in derives from the 19th-century use of homing pigeons, but today the term usually refers to missiles that home in on their targets. It’s also commonly used metaphorically.

Hone in derives from a mishearing of home in. The verb hone means to sharpen or to perfect, so hone in makes no sense. [KC – And here I thought it meant sharpening your focus on something. I think my brother’s fascination with knives and swords rubbed off on me.]

Because the erroneous hone in is so common, it has appeared in dictionaries and is accepted as a variant of home in. Still, most edited publications prefer the original form.

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