Dictionary editors challenge puzzlers to fix wonky wording after City of Toronto dog sign caught their attention.
Merriam-Webster wants to prove that dictionaries don’t always have to be stuffy, humourless tomes.
In fact, they openly trolled a Toronto sign on Twitter, then challenged followers to play with the wording.
The park sign – which seems to put civic responsibility on dogs – reads “Dogs that dig holes must have owners fill them in immediately.” Not the greatest grammar, let alone the fact that it sounds like dogs are encouraged to dig their owners’ graves.
Merriam-Webster jumped on the strangely-worded dog sign and put a call out to word-nerds to change it, in the form of a fill-in-the-blank puzzle.
“Writing puzzle #5. Reword this sign to make it sound less weird,” asked the editors in the tweet.
“The preferred (but not the only) solution will fill in these blanks: ‘Owners ___ ___ fill ___ ___ ___ dig’,” they challenged. People immediately took the puzzle and shared their creative answers on Twitter. One follower condensed the sign considerably, by writing “Undig dog dug holes.”, while another wrote “I love the implication that it’s the dog’s responsibility to tell their owner to fill in the hole.”
Another expanded the message to include other hole diggers:
Writing Puzzle #5.
Reword this sign to make it sound less weird.
The preferred (but not the only) solution will fill in these blanks:
“Owners ___ ___ fill ___ ___ ___ dig” pic.twitter.com/T09EEDGnDM
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 12, 2022
In the end, many got the grammatically correct answer Merriam-Webster was looking for, and filled in the right word holes:
“”Owners must immediately fill holes their dogs dig.”
Congratulations to everyone who got the solution we had in mind:
“Owners must immediately fill holes their dogs dig.”
Shoutout to @maryellnmartin for getting it quickly!
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 14, 2022