Thursday, September 16, 2010

Copy Edit du Jour

Some proofreading catches send a chill down my spine -- usually because I almost didn't catch them at all. Only on a second reading did I notice the error in this passage. Even then it felt like a fluke that I caught it. Here's the sentence:

Guests sipped signature cocktails and nibbled hors d'oeuvres into the wee
hours until the evening winded down and they went home with gift baskets teeming
with treats from local merchants.

The catch ....

I changed "winded" to "wound."

"Winded," 99% of the time, means out of breath. The proper past tense of the verb "to wind" is "wound." Webster's New World does allow "winded" as a past tense, but calls it "rare." And in copy editing, we never opt for secondary dictionary choices, much less "rare" ones.

That was almost the one that got away.

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Big Sky Daddy said...

Isn't "into the wee hours" and "evening" a strange contrast? Wee hours feels like after midnight, which doesn't count as evening for me.

June Casagrande said...

Good catch. That weirdness happened in my rewrite. (I disguise passages so's I won't get into trouble with the people I'm workin' for. I got a little sloppy with this one.)

: )

Cary said...

Shouldn't their be a comma after the word (down)? It just doesn't seem to read right without one.

Cary Wilkins (Fullsail University)

June Casagrande said...

Actually, yeah, that would be better. Comma rules say you don't need one between to independent clauses joined by a conjunction if those clauses are closely tied (and/or part of a single thought). So I could justify not having a comma there. But you're right that a comma would make it better!


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