December 25th may have been and gone, but it remains the season to be jolly. Since I’m an editor, the best way to make me jolly is to avoid some of the seasonal slipups and yuletide bloopers I’ve seen all too often over the years! Here are three that spring to mind:
1. Santa Clause
I’ve got to the point with some of our writers where if I see “Santa Clause” written instead of “Santa Claus”, I just send it back to them rather than correct it!
Santa’s name comes from the Dutch Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (or Saint Nicholas), and if you don’t want to end up on his naughty list, he appreciates having it spelt correctly – that means without an ‘e’ on the end.
I suspect the reason the ‘Clause’ error is so common is because of the 1994 film ‘The Santa Clause’. A clause is a section of a legal document, so in the case of that film, it’s a play on words. Microsoft Word also doesn’t flag it up as a mistake, presumably because it’s aware of the film. I would say it should, as I expect incorrect uses of the spelling outweigh accurate references to the film title.
2. Wreath vs. wreathe
The easiest way to remember the difference between “wreath” and “wreathe” is that it’s the same as the difference between its rhyming cousins “breath” and “breathe”. You let out a deep breath, but you breathe deeply, so one is the noun and the other is the verb.
Similarly, the circle of holly you might place on a door at Christmas is a wreath, and you could use it to “wreathe” your door, meaning to cover or surround it. Making a wreath can also be known as wreathing.
The songs we sing at this time of year are Christmas carols, not caroles. It probably doesn’t help this confusion that the word is often capitalised, as in the Charles Dickens story ‘A Christmas Carol’.
‘Carole’ is simply a variant spelling of the girls’ name, so unless you’re talking about Baskin, King or Lombard, leave her out of your Christmas writing.
Everyone at Engage Web hopes you had a great Christmas Day, and we look forward to providing your content in 2021 – keeping a keen eye out for spelling mistakes, Christmas themed or otherwise!