Let Us Sing a Dirge for “Spit and Image”


We got some quick work from the Times copy desk today: the blurb on the left lasted only a couple of minutes before someone rebelled and fixed it. This reminds me of a Slate column from a couple of years ago in which Juliet Lapidos tried bravely to defend her use of spit and image on the grounds that “it makes more sense to me,” but that’s hopeless. Idioms aren’t supposed to make sense. (On the other hand, her plea to “make absolutely sure that you’re right, and the author’s wrong” before sending out grammar police nastygrams is good advice.)

It’s possible that you’re surprised to see this usage at all. But until the mid-50s it was pretty common. However, as a quick glance at the Google Ngram viewer will show you, that was its last hoorah. For more than a decade, spitting image has been more than 20x more common than its original variant. It’s time to throw in the towel.

UPDATE: Now it’s been changed yet again, to “who also looks nearly identical to Kermit.” I guess spitting image didn’t pass muster at the Gray Lady either.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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