Posted by: Jack Henry | December 29, 2017

Editors Corner: A New Years Prophecy

Whenever New Years Day rolls around, people love to make predictions about the coming year. For the past week or so, my newsfeed has been filled with forecasts about celebrities, politics, sports, technology, and the stock market.

Heres one prediction thats sure to come true: In 2018 (and for years to come), people will continue to be confused by the words prophecy and prophesy. But not you, dear reader.

The words prophet, prophecy, and prophesy all come from Greek pro (before) + phts (speaker). They can refer to divine inspiration, as in the following definitions (from Merriam-Webster):

prophet: (noun) one who utters divinely inspired revelations

prophecy: (noun) an inspired utterance of a prophet

prophesy: (verb) to speak as if divinely inspired

They can also refer more generally to predicting the future:

prophet: (noun) one who foretells future events

prophecy: (noun) a prediction of something to come

prophesy: (verb) to make a prediction

Most people correctly use the nouns prophet and prophecy (which rhymes with see). But many people get tripped up by the verb prophesy (which rhymes with sigh). Prophesy is correctly conjugated in the following examples:

Holy men were prophesying the coming of a new messiah.

The book claims that modern events were prophesied in ancient times.

There is no Z in prophesy, but so many people started saying prophesize that it is now listed in many dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster. The Chicago Manual of Style is not so permissive, tersely stating, Prophesize is an erroneous form.

This is the last Editors Corner post of 2017, but well be back next Tuesday. I wish you all health and happiness in the new year.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar
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619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 |

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