Jibe or Gibe?

Turns out I don’t know which word to use: jibe or gibe.

I made this discovery when I took a Washington Post editing quiz based on the latest edition of the AP Stylebook. Click here if you’d like to try the quiz yourself (it’s short) – and you should. Anyone who’s serious about writing should have a sense of the things that editors do and the issues they have to deal with (like the difference between jibe and gibe – sigh).

Note that I’m not saying you should memorize the AP Stylebook, or even that you have to follow it. The AP (for Associated Press) Stylebook tells journalists how to handle various usage questions, and often the decisions are arbitrary: Is it Queen or queen? Pope or pope? Synch or sync? (Answers: queen and pope, unless a name follows, such as Queen Victoria; sync, without the h.)

Many organizations and institutions have their own stylebooks. At the college where I used to teach, the stylebook (which I helped write) decreed that President should be capitalized. We didn’t care that the AP Stylebook didn’t do it that way: We thought our President (an amazing woman, by the way) deserved a capital letter.

If you enjoy tangling with issues like these, perhaps you should think about a career in publishing or editing. And if your future does seem to lie in that direction, it would be a good idea to get your hands on the AP Stylebook to learn more about what editors do.



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