Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: kidnapping (1).

kidnapping (1). Today: Spelling. Spell-check programs notwithstanding, the spelling with “-pp-” is preferred by convention. But the inferior spelling “kidnaping” occasionally appears. That spelling has its defenders — e.g.: “The form with a single ‘p’ is to be preferred because it is a general rule of spelling that the accent determines whether or not to double the letter when the suffix is to be added to a word ending in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel . . . . [T]he final consonant is not doubled if the word has more than one syllable and the accent is not on the last.” Rollin M. Perkins, Criminal Law 134 n.1 (1957) (citing the examples of “develop,” “offer,” and “suffer”). Perkins’s final statement, explaining the general rule, is sound. But it overlooks the exceptional nature of “kidnapping.” First, the word is formed on the model of the shorter verb: “nap — napping.” Second, up to the 19th century, “kidnap” was generally accented on the second syllable. Third, “kidnapping” is about seven times as common as “kidnaping” in printed sources. Next: Sense. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Every one of us, when he writes well, is writing what he wants to. I must emphasize this. A work of art is born of the urge to create something, to write, and not simply because a man considers he ought to write something.” Alexei Tolstoy, “Advice to the Young Writer” (1939), in Maxim Gorky, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexei Tolstoy, and Konstantin Fedin on the Art and Craft of Writing 231, 231 (Alex Miller trans., 1972). ====================
Scroll to Top