Not a painstaking effort

The editor for didn’t make a painstaking effort to use the right word here:

fp painstaking

I’ve never seen painstaking used incorrectly, but if someone was going to do it, it would be a Yahoo! staffer. Apparently the writer thinks it means arduous or difficult or filled with pain. It does not. It means showing great care. According to the American Heritage Dictionary:

Painstaking is a compound of pains and taking, though it often sounds as if it were made from pain and staking. A painstaking effort is one in which someone takes pains to do something right. The word is sometimes used to mean “arduous” or “difficult,” almost as if it meant “painful,” but this usage is widely considered to be a mistake. In our 2008 survey, 74 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence Traveling by bus through such a huge country was a painstaking ordeal.


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