Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vetrinar* (for Veterinar*)

The other day I was watching one of those daytime TV judge shows and the litigant was testifying as to what a good pet owner she was. Her dog, she said, had been "fully vetted," by which she meant that it had had all of its shots. Cute, I thought snarkily, although it did eventually cause me to wonder about the derivation of the word vetted, as we typically know it to mean. According to Wikipedia: "To vet was originally a horse-racing term, referring to the requirement that a horse be checked for health and soundness by a veterinarian before being allowed to race. Thus, it has taken the general meaning 'to check.'" So on second thought, it would seem that the woman wasn't wrong in her usage after all, and was really just employing an unusually literal meaning for the word. And maybe not so unusual at that. Merriam-Webster gives "to provide veterinary care for (an animal) or medical care for (a person); to subject (a person or animal) to a physical examination or checkup" as its primary definition of the transitive verb, and lists the sort of "vetting" of manuscripts or politicians second. Vet your catalogs for this dog of a typo, which was found four times in OhioLINK, and 183 times in WorldCat. (Note: the less common variant Veteranar* was found 28 times in WorldCat.)

(A veterinary surgeon in the UK, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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