Wednesday, July 07, 2010

don't confuse tack and tact

From an article about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill:

I recently read with amused interest the piece from another San Diego News Network writer entitled, “Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Birth Control Pill.” As expected, it took the tact that the Pill “helped women take control of their lives”. I think the article failed to report a few essential facts about the Pill. (italics added)

Improper usage! To be clear: tact has to do with manners; the exercise of tact involves diplomatic or sensitive speech and action, especially in potentially awkward situations. To take a [different] tack means to try a different approach; "tack" is a sailing term.

So don't confuse "tack" and "tact." Take care in how you express yourself. Avoid being a disciple of School B.

UPDATE: If you scroll to the bottom of the linked article, you'll see that Commenter #3 has noted the same problem.


1 comment:

John said...

Actually, I've rarely encountered the "tack" and "tact" confusion. But I'm all amazed at how often people misuse "mute" when they mean moot.

It actually happened this week when a coworker told me "it's a mute point." I said, "what, we're not going to talk about it? Fine then, the issue is moot."