writing rengeek magpie mind

December 2014

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jarts: internet lawn defense league

you kids get off my lawn

Dear world: it's "Bury the lede," not "bury the lead."

We're fucking up the organization of a news story, not attending DiCaprio's funeral.

Comments

No doubt many a heteronym-loving invalid, has spent a happy evening over her bass pate, evening the social score by finding invalid pronunciations for her priggish peers to object to in a game where the object is to addle the pate of the opponent. But the rest of us generally can tell a bass from a viola when the wind is southerly.

Most users of English manage to negotiate heteronym-infested waters quite well by attending to context, and I doubt that there's much ambiguity available in the phrase "Bury the lead" even if you don't use Chaucerian spellinge.
The reason "lede" was spelled like that, though, was because there genuinely WERE problems Back In The Day. The editors would send notes down to the printers, and it made a real difference if you were talking about shifting the lead up, which would mean that the physical type was misaligned, or if you were talking about shifting the lede up, which would mean for the printers to make an on-the-fly edit to pull the topic sentence out more prominently.

Yes, at this point, it IS an archaic holdover piece of jargon. But it's one that I'm rather fond of.
Actually, not all that archaic.

We still use both terms regularly in publishing and printing.
I guess the question is, at this point, do you use "lede" because it genuinely can be confused with "lead", because "lead" is just plain overloaded already and you'd like to give the poor word a break, or because it's pretty cool?

In my opinion, they're all valid reasons. And, for me, it probably saves me a couple milliseconds to read "lede" rather than figuring out which meaning of "lead" is intended. But my impression was that genuine confusion was less of a problem now than it was Back In The Day of hot type.

On the gripping hand, I feel that "lede" is a specific enough, and important enough, concept to DESERVE its own word.
Typesetting still happens, and we still call the space between lines leading, and it still needs to be adjusted on a very regular basis. Even in the era of DTP.

So, all of the above.
I like spelling the color word "grey" myself. I'm just saying that of all possible usages to get exercised about, lede/lead is not my first choice for demonstrating the benighted ignorance of the user. There is room for informed difference of opinion on the matter.

Talk to me about people who use "begs the question" when what they mean is "raises the question" and can show you as much towering fury as the next pedant down the road.