More Errors

Almost daily I get suggestions for additions to my list of common errors. Sometimes they are already on the Web site.

Today I got suggestions for three interesting errors: “off his own back" [off his own bat] “batter an eyelid” [bat an eyelid] and “set a president” [set a precedent].

The first two were actually already on the site, but on a page quite a few people don’t know about, so I thought it was worth mentioning here. It's my "More Errors" page, where I list errors that are not truly common, but are interesting enough to be recorded.


I check in Google to see how common a particular error is before writing it up. My arbitrary standard is at least 1,000 hits for the error to be judged common. Google can be confusing, because the feedback on the first page commonly reports far more hits than if you click through four or five pages of results.

“Setting a president” didn’t pass the test, but I did add it to the “More Errors” list.

The same correspondent asked for a listing for “seperately,” a common misspelling for “separately.” I do not write separate entries for most simple misspellings which would be caught by a spelling checker. I make occasional exceptions when I find the misspelling particularly interesting, but most of them simply go into my list of “other commonly misspelled words.”

Both of these are reached by clicking on links at the bottom of the main errors page.

More people would find them if I put them at the top of the page, but I don’t want too much clutter up top.

My extremely popular “Non-Errors” page also has a link in the same location. Unlike the misspelled words and "More Errors" the “Non-Errors” appear in the book among the other errors, in alphabetical order.

So what does it mean to do something “off your own bat,” anyway? This expression is common in the UK, Australia, and other places where cricket is popular. It refers to a run scored by a player hitting the ball himself rather than benefitting by the action of another player. So to do something off your own bat is to do it independently, on your own initiative.

Bonus point: is it “benefiting” or “benefitting”? According to most dictionaries, either one is OK.

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