Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: saw / sawed / sawed.

saw / sawed / sawed. The past participle “sawn” is mostly archaic except in British English. “Sawed-off” is the overwhelming favorite in American English, “sawn-off” the overwhelming favorite in British English. But in the past few decades, “sawn-off” (whether in reference to shotguns, antlers, or branches) has made small inroads against “sawed-off” in American writing. Canadians stick closer to British English on this score — e.g.: “A sawn-off sweatshirt worn by the beach blonde [Pamela Anderson] is on the auction block for an estimated $1,500 to $2,000.” Rita Zekas, “And This Is Just In . . . ,” Toronto Star, 7 May 1997, at SW4. In American print sources, “sawed-off shotgun” outnumbers “sawn-off shotgun” by an 18-to-1 ratio. As a verb form, “sawed” is preferable — e.g.: “The complex could use many of the logs previously chipped for pulp or sawn [read ‘sawed’] into log-grade lumber, company officials said.” “The Bottom Line,” Oregonian (Portland), 23 May 1997, at B1. Language-Change Index — “sawn” for “sawed” in American English: Stage 2. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The time may be at hand when authors will not write at all. They will speak into a dictaphone, when dictaphones become cheap and portable. The dictaphone may even operate the linotype without the intervention of a compositor. But meanwhile the author who can afford a secretary is wasting much of his life in writing or typing in Phoenician longhand.” George Bernard Shaw, “The Author as Manual Laborer” (1944), in George Bernard Shaw on Language 73, 77 (Abraham Tauber ed., 1963).
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