Writing for Business

Nov 1 2013   11:34AM GMT

Can you squash a rumor — or only beer cans and bugs?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?

interrobang Lenovo recently ________ rumors of a BlackBerry takeover; now there’s speculation that Facebook might buy it.
a. quashed
b. squashed

Answer: Either.

According to most dictionaries, you can use whichever word you prefer. There’s my one thing learned for today — and it’s only 8:30.

Here’s an excerpt from the very interesting Grammarphobia post on quash vs. squash:

Both “quash” and “squash” are quite old and share the same Latin ancestor, though “quash” is far the older, according to published references in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The OED’s earliest citation for “quash,” a reference to quashing a woman’s lust, comes from The Owl and the Nightingale (circa 1275), one of the first long comic poems in English…

As for the verb “squash,” according to OED citations, it first showed up in a 1565 English translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People: “Ye must, I saye, teare them, rent them, and squashe them to peeces.”

I always thought that you could squash a bug — or, as the Grammarphobia blog suggests, a beer can — but had to be satisfied with quashing a rumor. Apparently, I was wrong. That happened once before, as my dad used to say.

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