Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sailor; sailer.

sailor; sailer. A “sailor” is one who sails — always in reference to a person. A “sailer” is a vessel or vehicle that sails, or that moves by the use of a sail — e.g.: “The second part of the project is to launch an operational solar sailer with eight sails to be tested in an 850-km. (528-mi.) circular orbit, also using a Volna rocket.” Michael A. Dornheim, “Solar Sail Test to Launch This Week,” Aviation Week & Space Tech., 16 July 2001, at 42. It isn’t unusual to see “sailer” misused for “sailor” — e.g.: “The current exercises involve about 15,000 sailers [read ‘sailors’] and Marines, and include cruisers and destroyers, with nonexplosive bombs dropped from the air, according to the Associated Press.” Mark Skertic & Lynn Sweet, “Ordeal Awaited Gutierrez After Vieques Arrest,” Chicago Sun-Times, 30 Apr. 2001, at 3. Language-Change Index — “sailor” misspelled “sailer”: Stage 1. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “It is the function of syntax and other forms of meaning to show the intended relations of . . . members to one another and to a whole or another member of a whole in which they occur.” W.K. Wimsatt Jr., The Prose Style of Samuel Johnson 16 (1941; repr. 1963).
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