Friday, July 4, 2008

Quickie Post: Pour versus Pore

An article on Yahoo! yesterday prompted me to focus on yet another word pair. Pour and pore mean two different, but easily-confused, things. The quote read as follows: “Some future researcher, pouring through Yahoo!'s old files, may be very amused that I made a big deal [about this].”

The confusion, I fear, stems from the mental image of pouring your attention over something like a cup of honey, coating it with your regard. That may work for imagery, but it ignores the meaning of the word pore.

When you pore over or through something, you scrutinize it, paying it close and steady attention. Thus, the phrase from the quote above should have read, “...poring through Yahoo!'s old files...”

To pour over something implies tipping a container of some substance, usually liquid, over that that thing. Def Leppard wants you to pour some sugar on them, apparently, meaning that you should take a five-pound bag thereof and dump it over their heads. Why they should wish that to happen, I'm not particularly sure. Perhaps they were using some imagery of their own.