Suffering-Word Sunday: TWEEK

From a blog post I just read:  “Use your best judgment to substitute and tweek my directions.”  TWEEK???

This is not a one-time thing.  I have seen it a LOT lately.  A lot of people (but not, you’ll notice, “alot” of people) seem to think “tweek” is a word.

And in this case, I’m not sure why I care.

My faithful online dictionary tells me that “tweak” is probably a variant of dialectal twick, from Middle English twikken, from Old English twiccian.  None of which are spelled either “ea” or “ee.”

And it sure is pronounced TWEEK.

imageAnd yet… and yet.  I think it’s because this word closely skirts the boundary between “real words” and “wacky made-up words.”  It’s actually a pretty silly word, that just manages to retain some semblance of dignity by virtue of its snooty spelling:  T-W-E-A-K.

When it loses the snooty spelling and becomes the more “of the people” variation TWEEK, suddenly you notice it rhymes with EEK – like you’ve just spotted a mouse.


More fussy decline-of-the-language posts you may regret reading:


  1. I am so glad you mentioned the rapid increase in "tweeking", it is making me crazy! So many people are using it when posting directions, recipes, how-to's, etc., and DUDES I'M SEARCHING ONLINE FOR THINGS I NEED HELP WITH! I have ADD, and when I find "tweek as needed" it sends my wandering overwhelmed mind into places I was trying to pull it out of in the first place by trying to get specifics, lol.

  2. "None of which IS spelled either 'ea' or 'ee.'" :)

  3. "None of which IS spelled either 'ea' or 'ee.'" :)

  4. Sorry - should have said "NONES of which are."


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