Write It Right: Bug for Beetle

“Bug for Beetle, or for anything. Do not use it.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, AmbroseWrite it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

4 responses to “Write It Right: Bug for Beetle

  1. Adelaide Dupont

    Not even the errors on our computers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that’s a perfect question, and the kind any teacher hopes to hear. Thanks Adelaide!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adelaide Dupont

        Your response makes me want to read Bierce and understand his reasoning for his pithy decisions.

        [and compare, say, to Fowler or to Strunk and White or even the Government Style Guides].

        [and of course the Hacker’s Dictionary – which explains in part that we have bugs on our computers – and IN our computers – because an actual material bug got into a first generation mainframe].

        [also I think of the Jargon File].

        I do know that Bierce lived and wrote largely before computers and computing were in our lives.

        [it has been reprinted several times and is in the public domain?]

        And I have a feeling he would not have enjoyed “bug” as a verb. He would have thought it a barbarism or a vulgarism.

        Also I think of “beetling along” and the genericisation of the Volkswagen Beetle which would permit verbing.


      • Yes: “Write It Right” was originally published in 1909. I post from it because I love Ambrose Bierce–he is little known today, but is regarded, I think, as a major figure in American letters–and find his comments on usage fascinating. Also, I think some of Bierce’s squibs from this book are good prompts for discourse. You’ve already added to my library of prompts where this book is concerned, Adelaide, for which I am grateful to you.

        Liked by 1 person

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