Friday, September 21, 2012

Wrong fudge word

Hed writers have a small but fairly ordered bag of tricks they can use for squishy quantities -- those "at least" or "up to" figures that fall somewhere between one and three figures.* "Dozens" is a good one. "Scores" is pretty handy too, even if it's not the sort of tally anyone uses in conversation anymore.

The trouble with the fudge words is that they have real meanings too, and they form plurals in the good old-fashioned way. "Scores" needs at least two score to be true. "Dozens" would have worked, but the hed at hand is simply wrong.

Copy editors often go unmentioned when new rounds of buyouts are lamented. That doesn't mean their absence is unnoticed.

* Any hed in which you can say "thousands flee," of course, is the sort of hed that writes itself.

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