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War and fruit

CNN has been caught out.

From Vivian Laxton:

I am a regular reader of your blog, as well as a recovering copy editor. I thought of you when I saw this paragraph on a CNN article online today:

NEW YORK (CNN) — Politicians. They're just like us, or at least, that's what they're desperate to have us believe, particularly during a campaign season in which the word "elitist" has been lobbed about like a lit hand grenade.

Now, I never served in the military, but I’m pretty sure that grenades haven’t had to be lighted for several centuries. …

Correct. The original grenades were explosive shells lit by fuses. The mechanically exploded grenade made its appearance during the First World War. Live hand grenade was probably meant.

The word grenade derives from the French pomme grenate or the Spanish granada, or pomegranate, the early grenades bearing a resemblance to the fruit. It came into common use in English during the late 17th century, when the soldiers who specialized in the use of grenades were called grenadiers. The modern hand grenade is familiarly called a pineapple.

An etymologically allied word is grenadine, the syrup made from pomegranates. Its effects, however, are not explosive.


Posted by John McIntyre at 11:24 AM | | Comments (3)


Ms. Laxton reports: The CNN story has just been changed on the Web site to "pinless" hand grenade.

The grenade fuse is in fact lighted once the safety handle is ejected from the grenade. See Wikipedia entry

Only an 'elitist' would know things like that.

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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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