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Site versus sight

Posted by Wendy Wood on 4th June , 2020 in Grammar
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In the US, organisations will quite often drive through neighborhoods, leaving paper bags on doorsteps to ask for food or clothing donations. A note stapled to the latest bag identified it as being from Disabled American Veterans (DAV). My curse as a “corrections officer” is to read things in their entirety. The fine print at the bottom of the note instructed us to leave the bag, filled with food, “in plain site.”

Macquarie Dictionary defines site as:

noun. 1. the position of a town, building, etc., especially as to its environment.
2. the area on which anything, as a building, is, has been or is to be situated.
verb. To locate; place; provide with a site.

I’m sure the DAV knows the difference between site and sight and would be mortified to know they’d made the mistake. Spellchecker is more than likely the culprit here. Computer programs are great, but spellchecker can only catch those misspellings that don’t represent any word at all. It catches the howling mistakes such as “decieve,” “seperate,” and “acumulation,” but it has a really tough time with homonyms such as site/sight, flair/flare and brake/break.

The context of the DAV’s note called for “in plain sight.”

sight: noun. 1. the power or faculty of seeing; vision.
2. the act or fact of seeing.
3. range of vision.
4. a view; glimpse.
sight: verb. 1. to get sight of.
2. to take a sight or observation of, especially with an instrument.
3. to direct by a sight or sights, as a firearm.

By all means, keep doing a spellcheck on all your writing. But then read over it to catch those pesky homonyms.

Wendy Wood


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