Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: taut (1).

Today: And “taught.” “Taut” (= [1] tightly stretched; [2] tense; or [3] well-disciplined) is surprisingly often written “taught” (the past tense of “teach”) — e.g.: o “Taught [read ‘Taut’] ropes sprawling this way and that anchored them to the ground.” Charlene Baumbich, “Memorable Days and Nights at Camp,” Chicago Trib., 22 July 1990, at 1. o “Muscles taught [read ‘taut’], bodies bent, the dancers’ breath became an integral part of the piece, their gasps, groans, shrieks and explosive exhalations providing a rhythmic counterpoint to the movement. The piece is laced with tension, and the dance is built around taught [read taut] muscles, twitching fingers and bent bodies.” Kip Richardson, “Rousseve’s Work a Touching Tribute,” Oregonian (Portland), 24 Jan. 1993, Lively Arts §, at 3. o “Also in deference to American tastes, [BMW] added touches of wood and began installing seats with wrinkled, rather than taught [read ‘taut’], leather.” James Bennet, “Luxury Car Fight Turns Uncivilized,” N.Y. Times, 30 Aug. 1994, at D1. In that last example, “wrinkled leather,” as opposed to *”taught leather,” must come from old cows as opposed to educated ones. Next: And “taunt,” n. & vb. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Laziness is a major reason for writers using the passive voice.” Ernst Jacobi, Writing at Work: Dos, Don’ts, and How Tos 80 (1976).
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