Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: strew.

The verb is inflected “strew” / “strewed” / “strewn.” “Strewed” is sometimes misused as a past-participial form — e.g.: o “Cars were strewed [read ‘strewn’] haphazardly in parking lots.” David Montgomery, “Flood Waters Leave Widespread Ruin in Their Wake,” Wash. Post, 23 Jan. 1996, at A1. o “It’s been 13 years since her [Georgia O’Keeffe’s] ashes were strewed [read ‘strewn’] over the glorious New Mexico landscape by her assistant and principal heir.” Jo Ann Lewis, “The Ghosts of Abiquiu,” Wash. Post, 10 Jan. 1999, at G1. Language-Change Index — “strewed” for past-participial “strewn”: Stage 3. “Strew” is uncommon as a noun {a strew of papers on the desk}. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines it as “a number of things scattered about; a disorderly mess.” Because it is so rare, a good replacement might be the better-known, similar-sounding “slew” — e.g.: “Ordinary people could be heard earnestly offering a strew [read ‘slew’] of views that, at their most human turning, veered toward the confessional.” Francis X. Clines, “At $50 a Pop, Specialists Listen to the Vox Pop,” N.Y. Times, 2 Mar. 1996, at 8. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Writing draws together an astonishing number of mental and physical actions, many of them going on simultaneously as the process unfolds. It is one of the most complicated things we do, and that is why it is always difficult.” Richard Marius, A Writer’s Companion 3 (1985).
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