GrammarPet Peeves

One of Grammar’s Biggest Losing Battles

There are certain words whose continual misuse drives grammar enthusiasts crazy.  One such mangling occurs any time someone refers to an event with a distinguished speaker.

Here’s a typical sentence you might see or hear at such a time:

The speaker walked up to the podium.

When you read that sentence, what do you picture? 

Chances are good that you’re imagining someone walking up to a speaking stand to which a microphone might be mounted.  This stand may contain the speaker’s notes and perhaps even a glass of water.

Is that what you think of when you see the word podium?

If so, you’re part of the problem.

A podium is the raised platform on which the speaker stands.  As Mrs. B, the grammar expert over at Newsblues suggests, the word podium should lead you to think of podiatrist, the doctor that specializes in feet.

That fancy — or not-so-fancy — piece of furniture that stands solidly on the podium is a lectern.

There.  I said it.

And people will continue to get it wrong every single day.  But at least now, you’ll spot the mistake, too.

4 Comments

  1. Before I got to the bottom of the post, my public speaking teacher’s “lecture on lecterns” from high school shouted in my head. He would stuff his tie in his mouth and make choking noises if we used the word podium…or uh and um.

    1. Exactly!

      The dictionary isn’t an authority on proper usage; it’s a compilation of words based on common use so people can learn what the terms mean. That’s why the word irregardless, which isn’t really a valid word and is always used incorrectly whenever the speaker should have said regardless, is still listed in the dictionary.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.