Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: skew; skewer.

skew; skewer. To "skew" is to change direction; to "skew" statistics is to make them misleading, especially by including some factor that is irrelevant to the inquiry. To "skewer" is (1) to impale, or (2) figuratively, to satirize or criticize. As a noun, a "skewer" is (1) a stick or rod that food is impaled on for cooking; or (2) something that skews something, esp. statistics or perception. "Skewer" is occasionally misused for the verb "skew"— e.g.: o "The boycotts of Los Angeles (1984) and Moscow (1980) skewer [read ‘skew’] the results and make them irrelevant." Skip Myslenski, "Mind Your Medals," Chicago Trib., 19 July 1996, Sports §, at 1. o "Critics of the system say the danger of open primaries is that crossover voters will intentionally skewer [read ‘skew’] the results of the opposition party’s races in hopes of nominating a candidate who can be defeated by their own party." Will Anderson, "Officials See Significant Cross-Ticket Voting in Primary," Atlanta J.-Const., 15 July 2000, at G3. As a noun in sense 2, "skewer" is used correctly here: "'What was he doing in that bathroom with that girl at five in the morning, drunk?' Bucher asked. 'Alcohol is the number one skewer of reality.'" Sandy Nelesen, "Tight End Emotional as Verdict Delivered," Green Bay Press-Gaz., 4 Feb. 2001, at A1 (quoting Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher). Language-Change Index — "skewer" misused for "skew": Stage 1. ——————– Quotation of the Day: "Linguistics has become whatever goes on in departments of that name." James Sledd, "Linguistic Relativism: The Divorce of Word from Work," in Studies in English Linguistics 256, 263 (Sidney Greenbaum et al. eds., 1979).
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