A Peeve and a Signal Boost

First, the signal boost:  Fran Wilde’s novel Updraft comes out today.  Smashing science fiction from a Viable Paradise alumna, available in hardcover and ebook formats from the usual suspects.

And now the peeve, because while it’s the first of September summer isn’t quite ready to let go of us just yet, and hot weather makes me feel peevish:

For heaven’s sake, people – copyeditors of the world, I’m looking at you – learn the difference between auger and augur.  Writers have at least some excuse, since the gift of good writing and the gift of good spelling are very much not the same thing, but it’s a copyeditor’s job to be aware of these  differences and keep good writers from looking like bad spellers in front of the reading public. For that reason, it annoys me when I spot mistakes like this in published work.

Okay.  Deep breath.

An auger, with an e, is a drill, specifically a tool with a helical bit for boring holes in wood or dirt.

As part of his cunning plan to do away with his fishing partner, Joe used an auger to drill a hole in the bottom of the rowboat they used on alternate days.

An augur, with a u, is an ancient Roman prophet or soothsayer, specifically one who was trained in reading the future from omens such as the flight of birds (and not to be confused with a haruspex, who did the same thing by studying the innards of sacrificial animals.) The predictions thus obtained are known as auguries, and the verb to augur still means “to portend a good or bad outcome.”

Joe’s fishing partner (who commuted on alternate days from ancient Rome by way of temporal translocation) consulted an augur about the day’s fishing prospects.  The augur, observing a flight of geese in the left-hand rear quadrant of the sky, said that the signs did not augur well for going on the water that morning.  When the rowboat sank at the pier later that day with no-one on board, Joe’s partner’s confidence in the auguries was confirmed.

So.  Two different things, two different spellings.

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