November 2nd, 2017

Yeah, it’s playwright

When I write posts about grammar or spelling I try to be extra extra careful not to make any grammar or spelling mistakes, because it’s almost inevitable that I will.

Almost. We’ll see.

Today I was using the word for “the person who writes plays” and I had to pause for a moment and look it up to make sure it was “playwright” and not the more logical “playwrite.” Not to mention the fact that a careless person might even think it’s “playright,” although that would clearly be wrong.

It’s “playwright,” of course, although intuitively most people must think “playwrite” and people often spell it that way (Spell Check just reprimanded me when I typed the word).

The reason it’s spelled “wright” is that the word is an old-fashioned one for “fabricator,” a crafts person who creates something. There was even a Playwright’s Guild to designate that fact.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, back to our usual programming…

15 Responses to “Yeah, it’s playwright

  1. DNW Says:

    I guess Orville and Wilbur were planewrights.

  2. DNW Says:

    I won’t bother to dispute his application of the term laborer to carpenters, or millwrights and similar men.

    But I will note that laborers are generally unskilled and definitely not craftsmen. And “labor” in the Marxist sense, and as a class reference, is practically defined by the individual’s lack of ownership of capital; i.e., the means of production, especially tools.

    No self-respecting wright lacks the right tool of his own for getting the job done … right.

  3. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Thanks Neo…it’s like the old fashioned wheelwright…Yes?

  4. TommyJay Says:

    After I made the mistake, I noticed that many or most in the media incorrectly refer to the “lead” of an article when the correct word is “lede.”

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    John Guilfoyle:

    Yes, it is.

  6. Surellin Says:

    Some things drive me crazy. “Run amuck” is one. And I have a friend who, when she can’t understand or believe a thing, “can’t phantom” it. And lede, as mentioned above.

  7. CapnRusty Says:

    If “wrights” are “fabricators,” then Hillary is the greatest wright of them all.

  8. Richard Saunders Says:

    When I was a newspaper report 50 years ago, the first paragraph in a story was the “lead.” I never say the word “lede” until a year or two ago.

  9. Richard Saunders Says:

    When I was a newspaper reporter 50 years ago, the first paragraph in a story was the “lead.” I never saw the word “lede” until a year or two ago.

  10. Ruth H Says:

    I read a lot of cozy mysteries free through Kindle unlimited and other purveyors of newbie authors. I can generally tell the age of the authors because so many of them have no real knowledge of spelling or old, well used idioms. I cringe when I see words which can have different spellings and different meanings used so incorrectly you can see the writer has no idea what the phrase or words means, or meant, or proper usage or spelling.

  11. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Has anyone else noticed Wa-lah for voila? It’s painfully common, at least online, where it turns up frequently enough that the Urban Dictionary has a definition for it (“Voila for idiots.”)

  12. ligneus Says:

    These are eggcorns, right?

  13. bof Says:

    Actually, the first paragraph is the lead. The online OED explains that the spelling “lede” is an Americanism (“chiefly U.S.”), a neologism (earliest known usage in 1951), and a purposeful misspelling of lead: “Altered spelling of lead . . . originally to distinguish the word’s use in instructions to the printer from printable text.”

    So, unless you’re writing instructions for a printer, call it the lead.

  14. Yancey Ward Says:

    Yes, almost no one uses the word “wright” these days. Almost archaic.

  15. Delilah Says:

    Run amuck is a real term. It comes from Indonesia and is spelled variously in English as amok, amuk, amuck – which is no big deal since standard spelling in Indonesia is still ongoing as it is quite a young language, having been “codified” in writing only in the 1920s. It means to succumb to uncontrollable feelings of rage/to go crazy and to lash out violently.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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