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More than parsley

A distressed colleague wants me to stamp out the misuse of garnish for garnishee in the paper.

No can do.

Garner's Modern American Usage prefers garnish as the verb and garnishee as the person or institution, such as a bank, indebted to someone whose property has been subject to garnishment. Garnishee as a verb he calls "historically unwarranted and therefore ill advised." Since Mr. Garner is also the author of A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, I took him as more authoritative than The Associated Press Stylebook, which continues to prefer garnishee as a verb — this despite the entry in Webster's New World College Dictionary, the basis for AP style, which also lists garnish as the preferred verb form and describes garnishee as a verb form as "now rare in U.S. legal usage." So I boldly and arbitrarily changed our in-house stylebook.

The same colleague complained of seeing awhile pop up in sports copy and insisted that the word does not exist. But awhile is a perfectly good adverb. I've been doing this awhile, and I know. But it does regularly get misused as the object of a preposition. The usage should be in a while, not in awhile. On that point I won’t hesitate to reproach.

Posted by John McIntyre at 12:49 PM | | Comments (1)


Apologies for raising this item from the dead, but:,0,3551765.story

'The government doesn't have to take you to court to be allowed to garnishee your wages, keep your tax refund or even snag a portion of your Social Security benefits in retirement, she says. And steep collection costs will be added on top of your debt.

If you have defaulted on a federal loan — which means you went about one year without making a payment — you can "rehabilitate" your loan by making payments for about nine months, Kantrowitz says. After that, you can enroll in the income-based plan where payments likely will be lower than if the government garnishees your wages, he says.'

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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