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From the Merriam-Webster dictionary: fac•toid noun \ˈfak-ˌtȯid\ Definition of FACTOID 1 : an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print
In other words, a factoid is something generally believed to be true even though it actually is not. The suffix “oid” does not mean little. It means resembling something genuine but in actuality a fake. For instance in a telescope an asteroid resembles a star but is not actually a star. Unfortunately CNN misused the term factoid for years and it’s now being misused by the public. Please forgive me, Patrick, but the incorrect application of suffixes is a pet peeve of mine. I inherited that attitude from my late mother.
To be (even more) pedantic, this term, as used, has a more recent connotation than the definition to which you refer. English, perhaps more than any other language of which I am aware, evolves rapidly. So while not the original meaning, according to OED, the secondary meaning is no less valid.
If you want to rant, fire off a letter to CNN Headline News. I think this is their doing.
I did years ago. Eventually CNN stopped after enough English professors complained. However, that secondary definition only occurs in recent dictionary editions. It’s there because CNN got people to accept it. However, the two definitions are contradictory and lead to confusion. In most updated unabridged dictionaries that newer secondary definition is indeed shown, but the dictionary’s ruling committee usually states its objections. The problem is that its use demonstrates a writer’s misunderstanding of the suffix “oid”. The proper usage of prefixes and suffixes helps readers to figure out what an unfamiliar word must mean.
Okay, no "F", but a "C" for following the misguided herd.
Last Edit: Dec 29, 2010 20:06:41 GMT -6 by Centaur
And I had a cousin who was in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" back in the 40's. He was living in Searcy, AR and had a pet chicken that would ride on the handlebars of his bicycle then wait for him at school. I wish I had the clip.
Post by Paulie pchris00 on Dec 30, 2010 14:09:59 GMT -6
Yay! A grammar rant!
Back to the original topic, if I may?
"The Moon's surface is scarred by more than 5,000 craters, some more than 12 miles across!"
Five thousand seems to few, and twelve miles is right around the resolution capability of small telescopes and binoculars. Of course we see many craters 50 or more miles across, so I'm curious to know why Ripley's chose 12 miles. I don't expect an answer, just don't know why they wouldn't choose a more impressive number.
"Just a boy, just an ordinary boy, but he was looking to the sky." -Vanessa Carlton
But technically I didn't use bad grammar! I didn't didn't didn't!!!! Waaaaaaaaahhhhh
Sorry, Patrick. I should not have ranted. As you suggested my actual complaint was with CNN, not you. It just bothers me that when someone else now makes an incorrect assertion, and I tell them it is a factoid, they think I mean the opposite of what I actually do. I suspect that it was Ted Turner’s own idea years ago to begin labeling small facts as factoids, and none of his CNN employees dared correct him. I’ll tell him off if I ever see him. I’ll gladly raise your grade to the “B” you wanted.
Last Edit: Dec 30, 2010 16:01:17 GMT -6 by Centaur