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January 14, 1974

English Language

JAMA. 1974;227(2):195. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230150047016

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Misspellings are the bugaboo of authors, copy editors, printers, and proofreaders. Despite all care, errors appear from time to time in all publications, and JAMA is no exception. For instance, the cover flap of the September 24, 1973 issue carried the title of a brief report, "Digoxin and Abdominal Serum Hormone Levels." Fortunately, the report itself had the correct title—"abnormal" instead of "abdominal."

In truth, in that instance, misspelling was not the problem; misprint would better describe the error. Yet, misspellings are frequent in print, and curiously, they seem never to excite readers' comments. Not so for malapropisms. As mentioned in an earlier editorial (213:290, 1970), JAMA once published in a synopsis-abstract, "Thus, our negative results mitigate against medium deficiency as contributing toward positive effects." As a consequence, letters to the editor flowed in. One scholar commented that mitigate is often used when militate is intended but that the reverse