Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where the horde kept their hoard

I've developed a new soapbox issue, another pet peeve, when it comes to people abusing the English language. Forget the proper use of apostrophes, never mind the confusion over their, they're, and there, and don't even worry about whether I could (or couldn't) care less. No, the English Abuse that's currently making me crazy is this: horde and hoard.

A horde is a large group: a mob, or a swarm.

A hoard is a collection of something that has been set aside for preservation or future use.

So you can fight off a barbarian horde, or you can steal from the barbarians' hoard - but if you find yourself fighting off a barbarian hoard, you're doing something very wrong. (Perhaps their treasure has attacked you?) Alternatively, I suppose an evil wizard could have a hoard of barbarians, if he keeps them in suspended animation in the basement or something. But that's not normally how it works.

In the same vein, a dragon can have a hoard of treasure, or a family can have a hoard of canned goods; but unless you've been setting aside magically animated gold statues or something, you can't have a horde of treasure. Just remember: a horde can hide its hoard, and a hoard can supply a horde, but there's no such thing as a bored hoard, no matter where it's stored.


  1. The one that annoys me is "lighting" and "lightning". I read a lot of articles from other artists describing the type of "lightning" they used in a painting.

  2. Can I nominate "prescribe" vs. "proscribe"? You know it's gotten bad when you find a reference to doctors proscribing drugs.

  3. I don't know, I garbled prescribe/proscribe just the other day on a Slacktivist thread. (Actually, I know the difference - but I was tired and managed to mess it up anyway!)

  4. The thing that bugs me about prescribe/proscribe specifically is that very often either word makes equal sense in a given sentence in the absence of a larger context, but when you get the context, you discover the wrong one has been used. With most word substitutions, it's immediately obvious what's wrong. That pair requires more work.


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