Friday, March 25, 2005

They're cute tykes, but not cheats, we hope

My local paper recently tried a nice twist of a hed on a story about a Pokemon card tournament:

Diminutive card sharps
battle to see who rules this
little corner of the universe

Oops!

Just managed to suggest those kids are cheaters.

"Cardsharps" -- and, yes, that's the correct form, not two words (although the OED would have us hyphenate it) -- isn't a term you see very often these days, and so its misuse can be understood. To a dictionary (Webster's, M-W, OED), cardsharp means one who cheats at cards.

What the headline writer wanted, I'll bet, was to say the kids are experts at their card game. Most of the dictionaries don't have that entry, but Webster's, the one that goes with the AP stylebook, clearly makes the distinction: Those who are experts at cards are card sharks.

And it fits, because from what the story says, these kids would eat your lunch in a second if you tried to take them on in a "friendly" game of Pokemon.

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