I was catching up on the news and reading Slate‘s “Today’s Papers” from yesterday when I spotted one of the confused idioms that really drive me up a well (that’s a joke, people): “to hone in on”

Lydia DePillis writes:

The NYT also hones in on the human cost of bombing in Gaza, complete with overwhelmed hospitals and torpedoed ambulances.

I hear this one with increasing frequency. Sorry, Ms. DePillis, but “hone in on” is an eggcorn.

“Honing” is the lost art of using a whetstone to sharpen things, like knives. As a metaphor, this can be extended to concepts such as skills.

“Homing” is the ability to zero in on a target — like home — the way homing pigeons do. The analogy also describes certain guided missiles and other weapons, and also electronic devices which employ locating signals.

You “hone” or you “home in,” but you do not “hone in.” Caprice?

 

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