Revised as of 3 September 2017
This is a particularly nasty confusion and came up in a listserve to which I belong. When I realized that I was confused…well, you know what they say about curiosity and the cat. It’s one of the penalties of being a Leo…LOL…
The simplest difference is target versus cut. Home in on targets the point of the sentence while hone cuts down to the essentials.
I’d appreciate input that will help make this confusion clearer…
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.
|Home In On||Hone In|
|Credit to: Merriam-Webster: hone and hone in; Cambridge Dictionaries Online: home in on|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Verb phrase||Verb phrase, intransitive|
Proceed to or toward a source of radiated energy used as a guide
Proceed to or direct attention toward an objective
Find and give a lot of attention to something or someone
An alteration of home in
Move toward, focus attention on an objective
Heading toward a metaphorical target or a point by sharpening your argument,
|Merriam-Webster states that using hone in is likely to be considered a mistake; that you meant home in. And that using home in and zero in are acceptable.
Brian Klems has a great tip: if you need in on at the end of the phrase, it’s home, if you don’t need in on, it is likely to be hone.
|Home in on the radio beacon for the airfield to get us back.
Those bombs are using our radio signals to home in on us.
The missile homed in on the ship.
The report homed in on the weaknesses in the management structure.
|She’s really honing her argument.
They’re honing the plan to its bare essentials.
|History of the Word:|
|First known use: 1965|
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!
Pinterest Photo Credits:
Victims of the Mozote Massacre, Morazán, El Salvador, January 1982 by Susan Meiselas, Magnum Photos, is under the CC BY-SA 3.0 US license, via Wikimedia Commons.