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Pet peeve

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Pet peeves; I probably have a hundred of them. As you get older, you get more of them at a rate proportional to how much more and more things start to annoy you. These days a lot of things annoy me. When I was younger I was Dennis; now I’m Mr. Wilson.

But a pet peeve becomes even peevier when it crosses over into my woodworking time. Today’s example, class, is the prefix “pre,” which is entirely misused in standard conversation today. In correct usage, the prefix modifies a word that is paired with a second word to denote that the action described by the second word is preceded by the action described by the first word. For example, if you hold a hearing before a trial, it is a pre-trial hearing. A woodworking example might be pre-planing adjustment. The adjustment comes first, the planing second.

Common usage today doesn’t correctly use a second word, and instead incorrectly makes the action of the modified word come first. For example, if you’re going to bake a cake you pre-heat the oven. That’s wrong. You don’t pre-heat the oven, you just heat it. Period. Cooking directions that state, “Place the chicken in a pre-heated 300-degree oven” are stupid. Nope, just put the bird into a 300-degree oven – the oven can’t be 300 degrees if it wasn’t already heated, so the whole use of the prefix is unnecessary. In fact, since correct usage of the prefix “pre” is to indicate what happens before the action of the word, then ANY action you perform before you heat the oven is, in fact, pre-heating. It’s about 9:00 on a Thursday right now, but I plan to make Italian chicken with tomatoes and freshly grated parmesan cheese tomorrow night for dinner. Since I won’t heat the oven till tomorrow, technically speaking I’m pre-heating that oven right now.

Woodworking has a ton of these “pre” words. “Before driving the screw, pre-drill a hole…” No! You don’t pre-drill a hole, you just drill the @%#&$ thing! Pre-stain, pre-finish, pre-glue, pre-fit, pre-cut, pre-assemble – wrong! Stain, finish, glue, fit, cut, assemble – right!

So, now that I’ve explained this, I won’t be hearing any more of those annoying “pre” words out of you, will I?

Thank you for your attention. Class dismissed.

Till next time,


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