Friday, April 8, 2011

Misplaced Intent

One of my favorite goofs from the past few weeks is this headline for – you guessed it – an online story from a local news station:

Two Misplaced After Duplex Burns Down

The story goes on to say:

No word yet on how it started, but the the home is a complete loss, leaving two misplaced.

Never mind the double “the” in that sentence. I’m curious about who misplaced these residents and if they were ever found.

In the reporter’s defense, the story was posted just after 3:00 a.m. that morning. It’s tough to think straight at that hour. Still, “misplaced” and “displaced” have very different meanings.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to misplace something means “to put in a wrong or inappropriate place” or to “mislay.”

Displace, which was likely the word this tired reporter was going for, means “to remove from the usual or proper place; specifically: to expel or force to flee from home or homeland <displaced persons>.”

Isn’t it interesting how changing just one letter in a word changes the whole meaning? Ah, but that’s a topic for another post…

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