I’ve mentioned it before: the increasing and distressing misuse of the word verse when the word should be versus. Versus is often abbreviated vs. or v. and is used when speaking of competition; for example, Rams vs. Broncos or in legal cases like Roe v. Wade. Verse, on the other hand, is an element of poetry or song, or a brief biblical passage, and is never abbreviated.
The words are in no way related, but increasingly I hear sportscasters in particular saying “verse” when they mean and should say “versus.” They, of all people, should know the difference; they use the word every day.
Even more distressing is the incorrect usage among young people. I suspect they learn it from sportcasters who talk about competition. And how the kids come up with something like “I want to verse you” is beyond me. I know language changes, but if this particular misuse becomes accepted (like the figuratively/literally thing), I shall truly be sickened.
I came across this limerick this morning on the Merriam-Webster website:
Subjunctively muttering his curses
Mr. Smith has a grudge he still nurses
“Were it up to me,
I’d beat them, you see,”
For confusing verses and versus.”
Mr. Smith and I are in complete agreement.
But now I’m questioning the punctuation in that limerick, which I copied and pasted without editing. Apparently dictionaries are all about spelling and usage, not punctuation.
Ugh. Pray your children never become proofreaders or editors. It’s a curse. Long into one’s retirement. On the other hand, it appears those occupations have already gone the way of the dodo bird. So instead, do this old lady a favor and just make sure your children know the difference between verses and versus. I’d appreciate it.