I came up with a new phrase yesterday. Drew asked me the correct punctuation when making a list: comma before the and – the much-debated “Oxford Comma” – to make lions, tigers, and bears; or no comma (lions, tigers and bears). I said that while I preferred a comma there, and many people do, an equal number of people prefer no comma, and neither punctuation option is an “editable offense,” meaning that if I were editing his paper, I wouldn’t mark it. (The preceding run-on sentences, however, are certainly editable offenses, although fairly mild. Perhaps an editable misdemeanor.) Drew said he liked the phrase “editable offense,” and at that moment I felt terribly clever.
Of course, this is the 21st century, and nothing is new under the sun anymore. These days a milisecond’s worth of Googling will confirm whether your feeling of cleverness is well founded or not.
My moment of cleverness is, I feel, still intact, but with a few dents to the armor. The search “editable offense” returned some hits, but only a couple pages worth, hardly signaling the robust preexistence of this phrase. And just about every hit was in regard to messageboard moderation; meaning, is saying such-and-such an offense worthy of the poster being “moderated” (the deceptively polite 21st century version of “censored”). I didn’t find anything relating to proper editing however, so I declare myself the inventor of the phrase “editable offense.”