Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Pore or Pour?

I found this in the Traverse City Record-Eagle (AP) 4/7/14, 6B:  “[As an NBA player] point guard [Kevin Ollie] devoured information, pouring over scouting reports and game film, looking at tendencies and statistics—whatever he could to keep himself out on the floor.”

Unless he was spilling his Gatorade over those reports and films, he was actually poring over them. It seems to me that the once impeccable Associated Press has been slipping in its editing practices in recent years.

As a verb, pore means to examine something with rigorous attention. It’s found in English beginning in the 14th century. The Oxford English Dictionary declares the origin unknown, but speculates that it might be connected to the dialectical pire (to peer closely), but going from a long –i– sound to a long –o– sound poses difficulties.

As a noun, pore means an opening, a duct, on the skin surface. It came from the Greek πόρος (poros), a passage or a channel. It also appeared in English in the 14th century.

The verb pour means to emit in a stream. It may have come from a Middle French word meaning to decant a liquid, and it, too, appeared in English in that hyperactive 14th century.

In sum, you may pour wine into a glass, then pore over its surface to detect sediment. Never, under any circumstances, pore wine into a glass.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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