The Editors' Blog

Rebut, refute and reform

The executive editor's column for Saturday is about readers' language pet peeves. Here are mine:

1. The use of the word 'reform." Reform usually is taken to mean "better." But one person's reform is another person's change for the worse. Avoid "reform." Say they're changing something.

2. Use of 'refute" when "rebut" is meant. People rebut all the time but it usually requires solid facts to refute.

3. Politicians who use "invest" when they mean "spend." We "invest" in assets, like stocks or buildings. Balance sheet items. Stuff that lasts. We "spend" money to hire some donor's dim nephew as a Clerk III in the Ministry of Silly Walks. An income statement expense.

You're welcome.