Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: trawl, vb.; troll, vb.

trawl, vb.; troll, vb. “Trawl” = to fish with a large cone-shaped net (called a trawl) that is dragged on the bottom of a sea or lake. “Troll” = v.t., (1) to roll (something) around and around; (2) to sing robustly; (3) to pull through water; v.i., (4) to catch fish by dragging a lure or a baited hook, esp. from a moving boat; (5) to talk quickly; or (6) to roam; wander. Each word is sometimes displaced by the other — e.g.: o “The cities are strung along the road like hooks on a trawling [read ‘trolling’] line.” Richard Nilsen, “Northern Trek,” Orange County Register, 26 July 1998, at D4. o “It was the second day experts from Colorado Alligators, a farm near Alamosa, trolled [read ‘trawled’] the pond with a huge net.” Carla Crowder, “Hundreds Hope, After a While, to Spy Elusive Critter,” Rocky Mountain News (Denver), 19 Aug. 1998, at A4. Language-Change Index — (1) “trawl” misused for “troll”: Stage 1; (2) “troll” misused for “trawl”: Stage 1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Unnecessary words waste space and the reader’s time, and they make strong writing weak.” Gary Blake & Robert W. Bly, The Elements of Technical Writing 65 (1993).
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