Musings and Amusings

This post is Day Two of the 5 Day 5 Photo Challenge in which I feature malapropisms.


Raqi and her buddy are at Spark’s football game. Because they are obviously ignoring the action, I looked for a malapropism having to do with ‘hiding.

I didn’t find one, but I found something better. The kind of serendipitous find that occurs only after you’ve stopped looking for something.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about a phrase I wrestle with, never realizing it is a malapropism!

Nor did I realize that I Am a Malapropiator! Malaprotionist? Maladjusted?

I thought the proper phrase was ‘hone in on’. I thought the people who used ‘home in on’ were idiots misguided. For years, I’ve muttered under my breath whenever I’ve read ‘home in on’. Yet I carried a nagging feeling that perhaps (only this one time) I might be wrong. Just in case, I’ve avoided using either phrase, thinking I’d eventually ask my learned readers.

Lo and behold, Mr. Rubin set me straight. In his malapropism dictionary, going to hell in a hen basket, right under the H’s is the following:

hone in on

Confuses expressions such as ‘finely honed’ (sharp) with ‘home in on’ or ‘zero in on’ (focus on, locate) and sometimes with ‘horn in on’ (intrude upon). ‘Homing’, as pigeons perform it, often involves flying in narrowing circles until the target is reached. ‘Hone’ means to sharpen; the malapropism ‘hone in on’ conveys the sense of a carefully sharpened instrument and sometimes ‘cutting in’.

The author goes on to say:

Some dictionaries now accept ‘hone in on’ as standard usage.

“Wow, lady, way to hone in on this kid’s moment.” 17 Sept 2014

Given the techies’ love affair with unmanned flying operables that do everything from delivering Amazon orders to killing terrorists, I fully expect the next version of the dictionary to malapropiate ‘drones in on’, not to be confused with ‘drone-ing on and on’.

Comments on: "Drone-ing In On the Homing Pigeon" (36)

  1. Whoa! Did I ‘home-in-on’ a post honing a particular malapropism to its cutting edge? O_o

  2. I need to go back in time Sammy. I used “home in on” once in front of an old boss who corrected me in that fashion that says “my college was better than yours.” I added this book to my birthday/Christmas wish list. You should get credit for boosting future sales. I suspect that some folks in this country will be homing in on the drones with the sights of their shotguns before “drone in” becomes a popular expression.

    • Ah the superiority of being wrong! I know it well – as wronger and wrongee 😊

      I must admit, drones in the ‘hood might be the final human-driven intrusion that puts me over the edge … neighbors’ music, unattended barking dogs, trucks with rumbling engines, (need I add leaf blowers?) – i don’t know if drones make noise, but you’d think the White House intrusions would give the ‘deciders’ pause about how we little people could be harmed.

      • I think drones are fairly quiet, at least when compared to leaf blowers (which I continue to use on occasion) but the privacy issues might cause me to go a little nuts on one. Maybe a baseball bat.

      • I do think they will make irresistable shooting targets for some. Or good batting practice 😊

  3. cardamone5 said:

    I always used the two interchangeably, wrongly I guess. It makes sense when I think of the words “home” and Hone” individually, but, boy, it’s humbling to discover you’ve been saying the wrong thing, and correcting your kids on the wrong thing, and no one has corrected you (probably just laughed behind your back) for years.


  4. Once in a lunch room conversation, the speaker was corrected. “Hone in on” was the correct phrase, they were told. Two dozen heads snapped around. The lunch room was at Honeywell Avionics. Our business was to “Home in on” things.

    • Talk about wrong place, wrong time.

      Altho’ ‘honing in on’ still makes more sense to me because I misguidedly think of it as SHARPLY zeroing in on a target vs a fluffy, feathered bird circling in to land.

      From now on, I might use ‘zeroing in on’ and leave the homes and hones to others!

  5. I would say ‘home in on’ if I said it at all, and I don’t mind you drone-ing on, but what I am curious about is what are those two girls giggling over under the towel?

  6. Which raises the question of whether one should correct someone who uses a malapropism (or what we THINK is a malapropism), as they might not be the one in error.

    • Yes, far better to mutter ‘idiot’ under your breath like I do 😊 Only later to discover I was muttering about myself, not the other guy!

  7. Carol Ferenc said:

    This is one that’s always confused me. Thanks for setting me straight, Sammy, and giving me a good laugh too!

  8. I don’t say or write hone in on or home in on, but when I read them, they’re one in the same to me. I like these posts!

  9. For years I thought it was hone in on… I hate it when I find out I was saying something wrong! Like when you read a book and pronounce a name a certain way, see the movie and go.. uh.. well, damn! (Think Hermione from Harry Potter….)

  10. Well, colour me wrong because I’ve been saying hone in on forever. hmmm – I wonder if I should I stop now, or continue on with what is now a well-established malapropism? After reading Dan Antion’s comment, I’m inclined to do nothing. It seems we might have had the same boss at one time :/

  11. Another malaprop that drives me crazy! I remember gently (I’m pretty sure) correcting a coworker in private when she regularly made that error. It did not go well. I never know when it’s ok to do that (obviously never in public). I appreciate the help, but not everyone does. I love “malapropiator.”

  12. It was only last year I learned this. Now I seem to catch it in other people’s writing all the time. Makes me feel comforted to know I was not alone in my error.

  13. Oh, this post made me laugh out loud. Thank God I just finished drinking my tea or it would’ve been a mess here on my desk. 🙂 I think I used home in on, too, but I sure like the drone in on and your take on it. You’re rocking this challenge, Sammy.

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