Irregardless of What AP Says, "Over" Doesn't Equal "More" (and Please Stop Unpacking!)

Irregardless of What AP Says, "Over" Doesn't Equal "More" (and Please Stop Unpacking!)

We admit we can be word snobs from time to time. (In our defense, word snobs, English teachers and copy editors are the only thing between civilized society and roaming mobs of ill-spoken Neanderthals.) We read dictionaries the way other people read novels. We have a T-shirt printed with the words "Causative Verbs are My Favorite." And we shudder whenever someone says they want to "conversate" with us.

In March, 2014, the good folks behind the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (commonly known as the AP Stylebook) announced they were giving up the good fight and, in response to its overwhelming usage, accepting the word "over" to mean "more." We were shocked and disappointed.

Over refers to position, as in "That tree limb hangs over our driveway." More refers to quantity, as in "We need more sugar." The two, no matter how many people use them as such, are not equal. (You can't say, "More my dead body," or "I need to earn over money." It doesn't work.)

The reason behind the change, the fact that a large number of people simply won't use "over" and "more" correctly, smacked of spineless surrender. Just because people frequently drive over the speed limit, we don't raise the speed limit, do we?

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So, regardless of what the AP Stylebook says, over does not equal more. It never has and it never will. Has the acceptance of "over" as a synonym for "more" pushed us closer to A Clockwork Orange-esque society? No. But it hasn't pushed us any farther away either.

This story continues on the next page.  

He's unpacking. It involves a suitcase. No suitcase, no unpacking, get it?
He's unpacking. It involves a suitcase. No suitcase, no unpacking, get it?

There's one more term that, while supposedly grammatically correct, irritates the hell out of us. "Unpack." As in, "We'll unpack that theory in another class." No, no, no. People unpack suitcases, not theories or ideas.

The word has been around for centuries as a word used to describe removing items from a suitcase or box. In the mid-1950s, it became a computer term used to describe the process of decompressing data. So, unless you're standing over an open suitcase or are a computer processing information, you're not unpacking anything.

Every time we hear people (usually pompous, really stuffy people) say they're going to unpack something, we have to suppress the urge to scream, "Who in hell packed it in the first place?"

We purposefully put three vocabulary and grammatical errors in this post. The first reader to post the errors in our comments section wins a free "Causative Verbs are My Favorite" tee-shirt. (Not really, but we might send you a free koozie or something.)


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