Pacific or specific?

11 Feb

DictionariesI don’t know about you, but I had suspected that this one was something of an urban myth, encountered only in sitcoms or observational comedy. As I came across it myself, yesterday, in a verbal interaction, I do suspect that it only appears verbally, and not in written form, in its non-ironic instances. (I don’t go in for finger-pointing for the sake of it, but if you do come across a written instance, do let me know.)

So, for the avoidance of doubt:

Pacific means peaceful in either intent or character (or both), or related to the Pacific Ocean.

Specific, which I would like to hazard a guess is 99.9% of the time the word the user means to use, means precise, clear, clearly defined – so “would you like your new mattress delivered on a specific date or don’t you mind when it arrives?” and is also used in relation to a particular subject – “These tufts are specific to this particular kind of mattress”.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “Pacific or specific?

  1. Alison Neale

    February 13, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Haha I have come across this one verbally too, and it always makes me smile! Another great troublesome pair I once encountered was someone who talked about celebrities being put on a pedal stool …!


    • Liz at Libro

      February 13, 2013 at 9:33 am

      Oh dear! I have done peddle and pedal before … I try not to giggle at mistakes but sometimes you can’t help it. One person I know, a teacher, has seen it in writing too.



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