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hypercorrection (hi-puhr-kuhr-REK-shun) noun

A grammatical, usage or pronunciation mistake made by `correcting' something that's right to begin with. For example, use of the word whom in "Whom shall I say is calling?"

[From Greek hyper- (over) + correction.]

"One explanation is that some people may have been corrected for saying `bad' in another construction such as `I need money bad' and so in hypercorrection use `badly' in all constructions. Other use it trying to be elegant, thinking `feeling bad' is somehow less educated." Roz Young, The Good Word is Don't Feel Bad About 'Feeling Badly', The Dayton Daily News, Sep 4, 1993.

"The truth is that hypercorrection isn't grammar's coup de grace. We all do it occasionally; here's how: Fear of the objective case. This comes as a shock to we (should be `us') people who care about grammar, but between you and I (should be `me'), hypercorrection is quite common." Rob Kyff, The Error of Fixing What Ain't Broke, The Hartford Courant, Apr 20, 1994.

This week's theme: words about words.


The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us. -Robert Louis Stevenson, writer (1850-1894)

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