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Correct Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

We took a look back on corrections, memes, and style changes from 2019.

Posted on December 31, 2019, at 5:55 p.m. ET

This is an excerpt from Quibbles & Bits, the BuzzFeed News copydesk's newsletter. Sign up below to nerd out about language and style with us once a month!

One of the hardest things in journalism — and, let’s just say it, life — can be admitting that you’ve made a huge mistake. Or even a tiny one. As we wrap up 2019, let’s take a look back on some of the best, worst, and funniest article corrections.

This correction is crueler than jail time

Read more of the best of this year’s corrections here.


The past 10 years have seen major changes in the way we communicate, as we discussed in our last newsletter when we dug into the words that defined the decade.

Our style guide is a living document. In the past year, we made a number of additions: We updated LGBT to LGBTQ — the Q makes the initialism more explicitly inclusive of diverse and fluid sexual orientations and gender identities. We also added themself, the natural extension of the singular they.

Among the ~incredibly important~ additions to our word list in 2019 are TikTok/TikToker, Snapstreak, yeehaw, finsta, Cantopop, strap-on, butt-dial, OK boomer, memeable, Baby Yoda, and Gen Z/Gen Z’er. I mean, we changed doughnut to donut! This was a very big deal.

As usual, the copydesk spent a lot of our year engaged in the highest form of intellectual discourse: grammar memes. Check out our list of 62 jokes and memes about language and style.

People's attempts to spell "Gyllenhaal", as a Sankey diagram. Success rate ≈ 20%


What’s New?

Here are the newest words, names, and updated guidelines in the BuzzFeed Style Guide:

  • blowjob (changed from blow job)
  • ABV (for alcohol by volume)
  • kickass (changed from kick-ass)
  • auto-tune (lowercase)
  • Baby Yoda (capitalize B). The character’s formal name is the Child, but either moniker works. Be consistent.
  • Updated our wording about marriage in our LGBTQ section: Use marriage equality and marriage for same-sex couples rather than gay marriage. Avoid gay marriage and same-sex marriage — as GLAAD notes, these terms "can suggest marriage for same-sex couples is somehow different than other marriages."


What's the Word?

Netflix / Giphy

gallimaufry (n.) (ˌga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē): If you have a gallimaufry of items, perhaps you’re looking at a jumble of sorts. The word, which means "hodgepodge," dates back to 1556. According to Merriam-Webster, its origins lie in a meat stew called “galimafree” then made by Middle-French-speaking cooks. (Could a gallimaufry of cooks spoil the galimafree?) Like other words for meals made with varied ingredients (e.g., the hotchpotch simmering in your Crock-Pot), gallimaufry evolved to mean a mixture of things more broadly.

Used in a sentence: A gallimaufry of memes — from “Old Town Road” to “cats can have little a salami” — defined 2019.


4 Things We've Loved Over the Last Few Weeks

  1. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch — whom our copy editor Emerson Malone interviewed for the July edition of Quibbles & Bits — wrote for the New York Times about how we’ve learned to write the way we talk in the 2010s.
  2. Caroline Bologna selected some words of the decade for HuffPost.
  3. Oxford Dictionaries named climate emergency its word of the year.
  4. Jess Joho took a look at words that defined the last 10 years for Mashable.

And finally, a tweet:

Do geologists call the research, writing, and editing process “rock, paper, scissors,” and if not, how do I start a petition to make them do so?


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