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On My Editing High Horse

By July 31, 2020No Comments
Silhouette of Person Riding a Horse

I’m not a grammarian, a teacher of grammar. I’m merely an editor who has to deal with grammar issues daily. As such I feel that it is high time that I address a series of topics that keep showing up in manuscripts I edit.  I’ve grown disturbed by the confusion some writers express in using words that have hi or high in them.

Hi, an exclamation that means hello, should almost always be followed by a comma when it comes at the beginning of a sentence, especially when a name follows. Example: “Hi, Barry, how have you been?” When it comes in the middle of a sentence, it may need no punctuation, as in this example: We all said hi before we sat down for the meeting.

Hijinks, the noun that means shenanigans, is not two words—high jinks—and is not highjinks, either. The correct spelling is hijinks.

Highfalutin or hifalutin, the one-word adjective that means pretentious, is not missing a g at the end. In other words it is not spelled high falutin’, highfalutin’, or hifalutin’.

Highjack, or its less popular spelling, hijack, means to steal a vehicle. It is always one word, not two.

Highlight, the noun or verb that can mean a climax or to emphasize, is one word, not two.

Highly, the adverb that often means very or exceedingly, is usually superfluous. Consider deleting highly whenever it appears in your writing to make the writing tighter.

Highspot, which means a highlight, is one word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary—the resource to use when following Chicago style—yet most spell-checking programs incorrectly want to change it to two words.

Hightail, meaning to move quickly, is not spelled hitail, and hightail is one word.

Highway, as we all should know, is one word, not hi-way, and it is capitalized only if it is part of a title, if it appears at the beginning of a sentence, or if it is part of the actual name of a road, such as Highway 92.

I’ve highlighted some highly misspelled or otherwise confusing words, but I know I’ve been riding high on my editorial high horse, so it’s time that I hightail it out of here. Hi ho, Silver!

Bobbie Christmas

Editor Bobbie Christmas is your book doctor. She can also be your mentor, ghostwriter, copywriter, and writing and publishing consultant. After spending decades writing and editing for a living, Bobbie became a much-sought-after seminar and workshop leader. She began Zebra Communications in 1992 in Atlanta, Georgia, to provide professional editing services to publishers and to writers like you.

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