Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pet Peeve: Percent

Today, I was reading a news article about a man who tried to get money from a police department for shooting him while he was holding a gun.

And I encountered one of my pet peeves.

His lawyer said that the court was "a thousand percent wrong in their decision."

Yes, a lawyer said that. Now, I would think that a lawyer would know better; and while a thousand percent sounds better than a hundred percent, it is still wrong. You can be completely right (zero percent wrong), or completely wrong (a hundred percent wrong), or any range in between. You can not be more wrong than completely wrong.

What would ten times completely wrong be like? Won't that void the universe?

Of course, the biggest violator of "percent" are college coaches: "We are going to give a hundred and ten percent!" No, you can't. You can give it your all, or slack off, but you can not give more than your whole capability.

Unless you use voodoo to steal the other team's mojo. Then maybe.

The only time that it is proper to use a figure higher than one hundred percent is when it is actually possible to do so, like taxes, book-keeping, fund raising, and mathematics. Example: "We are going to match the donations a thousand percent." Cool, my dollar will net the charity eleven dollars (my dollar and their ten). My favorite charity could only wish for such luck.

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