Blue carrots? Editor required!

July 30, 2014

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently. Examples include:

  • they’re, their, and there
  • to, two, and too
  • raise, raze, and rays.

And then there’s carat, caret, and carrot:

  • ‘Carat’ is a measure of mass, and is typically associated with gemstones such as diamonds.
  • A ‘caret’ is an inverted ‘V’ character: ^. The other ‘V’ characters on the keyboard are known as angle brackets or ‘chevrons’ and look like this: < and >
  • And a carrot is a root vegetable, typically orange (though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist too).

A good editor will know which word to use in which context, or, if in doubt, will check a dictionary to find out.

Which brings me to a PowerPoint presentation about some software being rolled out to tens of thousands of staff in a very large global company. In the PowerPoint presentation was this gem:

carrots Not only was the incorrect spelling used, but the incorrect word was used too. That symbol (which I’ve seen called all sorts of things, but NEVER a caret—let alone a carrot!) is sometimes known as a right arrow or a ‘chevron’ or an expand icon, or a ‘more information’ button.

Not a caret, and certainly not a blue carrot!


  1. Interesting. Recently I received a reply from someone as follows:
    “You have to bare with me”. Obviously instead of “bear”. (“bear” also refers to an animal). So, more care is required.

  2. I remember reading an article in a PC magazine once in which the well-known author (it may have been Helen Bradley, but I don’t really remember, so I shouldn’t cast aspersions) explained to readers that the symbol ^ was technically referred to as a “carrot”, for reasons that she didn’t understand! I sent her an email explaining that it was actually called a “caret” and that this is a Latin word meaning something like “there is [something] missing”. She didn’t reply. Not quite as funny as your example, but it seems there’s some confusion out there!

  3. Thanks for sharing, this is a funny one :) I am sure this made a lot of fun during the presentation to that large audience :) Who said that meetings are boring…

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