Posted by anonymouse on:
I do a lot of reading, for a mouse, and I am often challenged by how someone has chosen to communicate something specific. You might say how they have 'homed' or 'honed' in on their topic
Reading the April 25, New Yorker article 'The Possibilian', I encountered the sentence, "If you're hiking through a jungle and a tiger growls in the underbrush, your brain will instantly home in on the sound...."
That cannot be right, my mouse brain tells me. To be sure, the correct word is 'honed'. But does the New Yorker allow mistakes of that sort? I doubt it.
Checking in with Merriam Webster online, I read that hone is an intransitive verb meaning, "to move toward or focus attention on an objective."
Home-in, in the same dictionary directs me to a number of 'better' choices, one of which is hone-in.
About.com's section, About Grammar, reports that 'home in', not 'hone in' is the correct phrase" having to do with the activities 19th century homing pigeons. It says that in the 20th century some writers began to mistake hone for home, that is, to 'sharpen' for what pigeons do, which is 'go home'.
George Bush is credited for having brought 'hone' into more common usage, which for this mouse, does a lot to discredit the idea.
William Safire has called 'hone' a confused variant for 'home.
For now I think I will switch back to 'home'.
Thanks to Cavin for the great pigeon shot!