By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

More progress on the “M”-word

Robert Bertsche, a prominent First Amendment lawyer in Boston, passes along the latest news from the AP Stylebook Online (yes, I’m too cheap to subscribe):

dwarf The preferred term for people with a medical or genetic condition resulting in short stature. Plural is dwarfs.

midget Considered offensive when used to describe a person of short stature. Dwarf is the preferred term for people with that medical or genetic condition.

My 2004 edition of the AP Stylebook does not contain an entry for either word. Clearly the dwarfism community is making progress in its efforts to educate the public about the “M”-word.

In 2009, the New York Times’ then-public editor, Clark Hoyt, wrote that the Times had concluded the “M”-word was offensive.

I discuss the rise and fall of the “M”-word in Chapter Seven of my book on dwarfism, “Little People.”

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  1. Matt Kelly

    Why would the plural spelling not be ‘dwarves’?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Matt: Dwarves is archaic. According to Random House, dwarfs is preferred to dwarves.

  2. Ken Gornstein

    You trendsetter, you.

  3. Mike Rice

    O.K., I have to ask: is the correct plural of scarf, “scarfs” or “scarves.”

  4. Brad Deltan

    Maybe I’m a nerd, or just an insensitive baboon, but when I see “dwarves” I think “Lord of the Rings” or “Dungeons & Dragons”.

  5. Matt Kelly

    Or to your point, Mike– would it be ‘wharfs’ or ‘wharves’?

  6. Mike Rice

    I think it’s “wharves” Matt. I’m really confused especially when it comes to the plurality of aircraft, deer, moose, sheep, bison, salmon, trout, fish and swine. And what’s the plural of uterus? Is it uteri or uteruses. I guess I’ll consult my wife’s gynecologist, she should know.

  7. Mike Benedict

    @Mike Rice: Check out the plurals for focus and location. They will blow your mind.

    • Dan Kennedy

      And remember, the singular of media is medium.

  8. Mike Benedict

    @Dan: Is that why those in the press consider themselves seers?

    Ha! I kill me!

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