First up on the list: “biweekly.”
I was just emailing one of my new writers to see how often they might be able to write for us and I was planning on writing “weekly or bi-weekly” in reference to how often I should plan for one of their stories. Then it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember whether “biweekly” meant twice a week or every other week. What I wanted to say was “biweekly” as in every other week. (Because while I appreciate all the writers who I have the privilege of working with, I’d really want to see them delivering a single really solid piece a week for a few months before deciding to give them the Green Light on two per week.)
I thought a quick consultation with the Google Oracle would shine more light rather than heat on the matter. Instead my mild annoyance at my poor memory and English major shortcomings would mutate into hot rage upon reading the definition:
Definition of BIWEEKLY
1: occurring twice a week
2: occurring every two weeks : fortnightly
How the hell did this happen? Surely some editor at Merriam-Webster could have said,
You know, this is pretty worthless. We’re [fancy, obscure expletive that only highbrow dictionary editors know deleted] Merriam-Webster. We’re the ones that get to decide. Let’s just do the entire English-speaking world a favor and decide that biweekly means every other week.
Even worse, one of my English major friends from college commented when I ranted about this last night on my Facebook wall:
This is about the stupidest thing ever. Merriam-Webster says the same damn thing about bimonthly!!!! I always thought they meant every other week and every other month, respectively. Damn. It is very frustrating to see words rendered useless.
Does anyone else have suggestions for other words that need to be either destroyed or reformed in order to facilitate greater clarity and sanity?