Color Me Fuchsia


Here’s a word that came up in an article I was editing the other day: fuschia. The article was describing the color of something, and I blasted right through the sentence without a second thought. When I got to the end of the article, I did what I always do: I read it again. (In copy editing classes, we teach students to always read everything at least twice. Do this enough and you’ll see why. It’s pretty much impossible to catch every error and every questionable issue on the first pass.)

Reading through the article a second time, I noticed a few little things that needed questioning. But I didn’t hesitate at “fuschia.”

Finally, just before I was about to send the story back to the editor, I did another thing I always do: I ran spell-check.

Say what you will about spell-check. I know it’s downright stupid at times. Its ignorance of how prefixes and suffixes work is especially annoying: Spell-check doesn’t get that a prefix or suffix can create words that aren’t in the dictionary but are nonetheless perfectly legitimate. So it tells you that perfectly fine words are wrong.

But, weaknesses aside, spell-check has one strength: it can scrutinize every letter of every word much more easily than a human can. And guess what it stopped on: fuschia. So I fixed it and took another quick look at the rest of the document. Then, out of reflex, I hit spell-check again. It stopped on just one word: fuchia, which is how I had “corrected” the spelling of fuschia.

I got it wrong when I wasn't trying, then I got it wrong again when I was.

Turns out, it’s spelled fuchsia, which I will ever after remember as “fuk-see-ya.”


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