Posted by: Jack Henry | March 25, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Misused Words in the Media

Good morning!

One of my daily English and grammar resources (the Daily Writing Tips website) provided information recently about “near-misses” (words or phrases that have been used incorrectly) in the media. I always appreciate these tips. We tend to trust the media to use the language correctly, but they’re human, and their editors are human, and sometimes we humans just get it wrong. Since the media has such influence, though, I think it’s worth pointing out their mistakes so that we don’t all follow suit.

Here are the offending mistakes:

  • penpointing for pinpointing(pinpoint is a verb that means to find or locate, especially on a map or chart; penpointing isn’t actually a word)
    Many of us don’t pronounce the word pen any differently than we pronounce the word pin. That’s part of the problem. It might help to remember that pinpointing literally means to push a pin into a location on a map, not to use your pen to point to something. As my mom, will tell you, that would be rude.
  • throws for throes(a throe is an intense spasm or pain experienced during labor [a uterine contraction], throw means to use your arm and hand to propel something with force through the air)
    Given the distinctive definitions, we shouldn’t say that we are in the “throws of a crisis.” Firstly, it would be “throes of a crisis” and secondly, maybe we should save that word for women in labor. Just a thought.
  • ruckus for raucous(ruckus is a noun that refers to an uproar or disturbance; raucous is an adjective that refers to making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise)
    Part of the problem here is that both of these words refer to something noisy. Now that you know that one is a noun and one is an adjective, you should be good to go. Here are some correct examples to help you out:

    • My neighbors complained about the ruckus from my birthday party. (noun)
    • It was a raucous party indeed! (adjective)

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

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