Numbers with character (Mistake #20)

It’s summer. Everybody’s been talking about hot temperatures. Here’s the Press Association, here’s Sky, here’s the Daily Record, and here’s the Daily Express, all insisting that a temperature can be hot.

But it can’t. Temperature is a number. A number can be high. A number can be low. A number can be average. What a number can’t be is hot. Or cold. And not sweltering, The Guardian, or roasting, the Daily Mail. That would be the weather, or the day, or the environment.

Too pedantic? Yeah, maybe. But I am a little surprised that it so often gets past the sub-editors at the nationals.

In for a penny, then: the same argument goes for ‘fast speed’ and ‘cheap prices’. ‘High speed’ and ‘low prices’ are what you want if what you want is to be precise.

‘Old age’? Age is a number, so can it really be old? Strictly, I guess not, but we have established terms such as ‘old age pensioner’ so…

Okay, guess I’m done. Can you think of any others?

Comments 4

  • Return back – a definite no no!

  • Ah, that's a tautology. It's different. I'm looking for inappropriate adjectives applied to numbers. (Or perhaps other nouns. Is there a word for this?). Tautologies are brewing, though, oh yes…

  • What about boxers – heavyweight or lightweight? Should these be high weight or low weight? I guess they come under the same category as old age.

    And prices are frequently given 'personality' by advertisers. They can be amazing, cheapest ever, unbeatable, fantastic. I work for a retailer which prides itself on its 'honest prices'.

  • womagwriter, these are brilliant.

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