Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sheath, n.; sheathe, vb.

sheath, n.; sheathe, vb. It’s an error to use “sheathe” (rhymes with “teethe”) as a noun or “sheath” (rhymes with “teeth”) as a verb — e.g.: o “The device features a mechanism that secures the needle, point and all, inside a plastic sheathe [read ‘sheath’] at the same time that the user withdraws it from the skin.” Jeff Hawkes, “Safer Needles Are Now Available,” Lancaster New Era, 20 Feb. 1996, at A1. o “Madame de Sevigne’s friend, the Sun King, tamed his subjects by urging them to sheath [read ‘sheathe’] their swords and help with his nightshirt or hold his candle as he got undressed.” Jackie Wullschlager, “Maman Dearest,” Fin. Times, 4 Nov. 1996, at 21. Just remember the difference between “breath” (n.) and “breathe” (vb.). “Sheath” forms the plural “sheaths,” not “sheathes” — e.g.: “Don Davis makes each of the hand-tooled leather sheathes [read ‘sheaths’] that come with his knives.” “The Cutting Edge,” Denver Post, 6 Aug. 1997, at F1 (photo caption). Language-Change Index — “sheathe” misused as noun for “sheath”: Stage 2. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “It strikes everyone as an extreme case of the evils of jargon when a man is tried by a law he can’t read, in a court which uses a language he can’t understand.” A.P. Rossiter, Our Living Language 86 (1953).
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