*Waver, Waiver, Smartphone, Smart Phone

Here’s a word I never fail to stumble over: waver. As in the recent Yahoo News Headline “Apple wavers as court Reverses Ban on Samsung Smartphone.”

Every time I see “waver” in print, I experience one brief moment of thinking it should be “waiver.” And vice-versa: anytime I see “waiver” I think it should be “waver.” It only takes me a split second to realize I’m wrong. But it’s still a little unnerving to have my mental defaults exactly backward.

For the record, here, per Merriam Webster, is the difference.

waver: verb. to vacillate irresolutely between choices; fluctuate in opinion, allegiance, or direction

waiver: noun. the act of intentionally relinquishing or abandoning a known right, claim, or privilege; also : the legal instrument evidencing such an act.

More simply, to waver is to change your mind. A waiver is a legal relinquishment or exemption.

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And here’s another word that always give me pause: smartphone. There’s still no consensus on whether it should be one word or two. But indicators I’m seeing definitely indicate that the trend is toward one word.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary -- the one AP users are supposed to follow -- doesn’t have an entry for the one-word “smartphone” yet.
That means, by implication, that you can only use the words that are in the dictionary: smart and phone. However, some publications I edit that follow a basic form of AP style have decided in-house style should be one word, smartphone.

Merriam Webster, by the way -- the Chicago Manual’s default dictionary -- does have a one-word entry. So in book and magazine style, if you will, smartphone is the clear choice.

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