I don’t think that means what you think it means

Today, I opened Facebook to discover this gem:

In the immortal words of The Princess Bride, “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

I can picture the scene: It’s deadline. The copy editor passes the article along to another editor or whomever is supposed to write the headline (sometimes, it’s a different person from the writer), and he/she knows there’s a word for someone who can use both hands equally well. . . . but what is it? It starts with an A. Amphibious. Yes, that’s it.

But, no. It isn’t. It’s ambidextrous—and it’s used in the second paragraph of the article.

So, editors, this is why your job matters. Words mean something, convey something. Let’s use the right ones!

Some say that the “mistake” was a pun recalling Charles Shackleford making the same mistake. Even if that’s true, most journalists know you don’t make jokes that most readers won’t get in a headline.

Read more about this headline here.


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