Friday, March 04, 2005

Sometimes, you just can't win

When you get your just deserts, you are getting what you deserve. The words are spelled with one S.

But try telling that to the pissed off readers in Minneapolis. They've been writing in to the Star-Tribune about the Martha Stewart headline "Out and ready for her just deserts." So many complained that the readers rep posted a note online:
Readers, radio announcers and television stations poked some fun at the Star Tribune this morning, saying the front page headline on the Martha Stewart story -- "Out and ready for her just deserts" -- was spelled incorrectly. They thought it should have been "just desserts."

But "desert" is the correct spelling -- most of us spell the phrase wrong, thinking it refers to the sweets we eat after dinner. It's from the French word for "deserve."

Readers who want to explore the phrase further can consult page 390 of the Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.
Thanks to Chandra Akkari for pointing this out.


At 5:21 PM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

But does the correctly spelled phrase make any sense in that headline? Seems to me her "deserts" were in prison; it's a lame pun, perhaps, but "desserts" would seem to be a better description of what's next.

At 6:00 PM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

I think that's a valid complaint, Bill. "Desserts" would be a better headline. It seems as if they were doing a back-formation pun, riffing off the "desserts" angle back to the original phrase. (Otherwise, there are plently of better cliches to use in that hed.)

And I would have no problem with readers complaining about copy editors missing an opportunity for a better hed.

But to write in and complain that they got the phrase wrong is just ill-informed.

At 6:03 PM, March 04, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

And Vince Tuss points out in the comments on the Martha headline thread: "Apparently we had a hundred-plus calls, as well as TV and radio commentary, saying we had misspelled the headline."


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