Yesterday, a headline in a prominent newspaper boldly proclaimed that the Saudi king was handing over the reigns while he was in the U.S. for treatment.
Since a king only has one reign, and he holds it whether he’s in the U.S. or not, I thought at first maybe the writer was joking. But the straightforward lead told me that it was a simple case of substituting the wrong word for reins, those narrow straps used to guide a horse, or in this case, a country. While the homonym (a word pronounced alike but spelled differently) made the print edition, someone made the change in the online version, turning “hands over reigns” into “leaves for medical tests.”
A lot of errors like this seem to be slipping through these days, so this seems a timely reminder to be careful out there, people. It’s easy enough to make a mistake, especially if you are writing in a hurry. But if you don’t have what now seems to be a luxury, a proofreader, set aside your work for a time and come back to it. Read it carefully.
Here are some others I’ve collected recently from newspapers, magazines and even textbooks:
- An Opera-of-style (I think it meant Oprah-style)
- Try it with disgression (discretion)
- Soon the gentile style is explained (genteel)
- Cumberbund dress (cummerbund)
- Where the law takes president over (precedence)
- Fait de complet (fait accompli)
- Spend hours pouring through magazines (poring)
- I wanted to chyme in (chime)
- The sign bares the message (bears)
- Wide whale corduroy (wale)
- Was in the throws of remarkable growth (throes)
And you can bet I proofread this post carefully!