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The OED gives examples of "in point" from on. Its first citation of "case in point" is from , which probably can be taken to mean that it was in use much earlier. A "case in point" is one which contributes to the point one is trying to make, perhaps as an illustration. Since "in point" means apposite, pertinent, etc. The phrase "case in point" did not drive out the use of "in point" in the meaning cited here.

But you will hear "case in point" far more often these days. There are other ways to say "in point," depending on the context.


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The "case in point" idiom is a fairly common one, but that means a frequency of about 3 per million words. And if you were someone who first learned the phrase as "case and point" from hearing it spoken, seeing an occasional written "case in point" — roughly once in every third long book — wouldn't necessarily register as relevant. That last could almost be reading "point" as the term used in sports and game scoring. Case, point, game, set and match. I'm with Tom — "match, set and point" seems to be the substratum, suggesting not just Q. I've also more recently come across the reversal "point in case".

Presumably this is taken to be a shortening of "a point in the case". I confess that a few examples of this type of error are usually enough for me to form a judgment of someone as under- if not unread. It occurs to me that many errors of substitution in language, like the ones in the dyslexia and dysgraphia family, are features of the way the individual's brain works, such as how some people can't remember English spelling regardless of how they are taught or how much they read. Could something similar be behind eggcorns perhaps, where the speaker who has been exposed to both variants can't recall the correct one?

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In contemporary American legal jargon, "on point" means "precisely relevant. While the phrase "case in point" may be fossilized, it seems that "in point" has simply been replaced by "on point," at least here in the US in the legal community. In college we had the opposite issue, where friends would correctly use, but mispronounce words they had obviously seen in writing, but not heard in speech.

John- My childhood was plagued with such incidents! I read a ton and, very shy, communicated by speech relatively little. I must confess to a certain pleasure upon hearing about this happening to adults. At least a few of those may be typos. I feel sure I've accidentally typed and for in and vice-versa, though I knew "perfectly" well which word I wanted. Calling them eggcorns valiantly attempts to make the corrupt humorous, and thus innocuous. It appears that the lettered will eventually give up all historically correct figures of speech to the Phyllis Deans.

The Grammarphobia Blog: A case in point

As Tom says, that last usage sounds like sports term: "game, set and match. I have to agree with the reading a lot, speaking a little point of view. I always used the word 'epitome' correctly in speech, but I always read it as ep-i-tome to rhyme with home.

One day in company I used the read version in speech instead to a companty of friends and was greeted with an embarrassed and embarassing silence. Hibbert: Well I'm not worried, you've already agreed not to sue me for anything. Marge: When did I agree to that. Hibbert: You did when I validated your parking. Marge: You didn't validate my parking. Hibbert: Check and mate. I did qualify my remarks, and I think oral learning of the phrase, perhaps in the form 'case and point' or hearing 'case 'n point' and analysing it as 'case and point' is probably often the case.

Certainly many of the substitutions and eggcorns that turn up in newspapers and blogs can sensibly be attributed to spoken words being turned into something else in print, perhaps assisted by the Cupertino effect. One of my former students, an Urdu speaker doing an MA in sociology, had great problems with this in writing up her research. Not so much with the technical sociology terms which she usually presented and spelled correctly, but with general words and terms of more formal academic English.

Her attempts at spelling words heard in lectures and seminars, or translating her informants' Urdu and Punjabi, when run through a spellchecker, would often result in Cupertinos. As an NNES, though a well-educated one, she had more excuse than some for not recognising these and I was happy to proofread for her and to suggest more likely alternatives to communicate her meaning.

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Sometimes this took some negotiation as to meaning and dictionary work on her part. Despite the pronouncements of some educational theorists as filtered through multiple layers of bureacracy, most ESOL students are eager to be corrected and are shocked and disappoointed if corrections and improvements to their spoken and written language are not made by their teacher. Often, especially at higher levels, this is a matter of principles for converting heard and spoken language into written language, and recognising the difference between the grammatically permissable and natural, idiomatic English.

I recommend reading and using what is read as models for writing. April 2, pm.

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The read pronunciation rather than the spoken one happens to me too. I saw the same comment from the book review that you mentioned here and wondered at the use of "case and point. Marc B. There are loads of words I know perfectly well and can use correctly, BUT I don't know the correct pronunciation. Came across one just an hour ago: betrothal. Is that an -o- or an -oh- sound in the middle? And once I was talking about how hospitable Albanians are, and stressed the first syllable…. I grew up thinking I was hearing 'all intensive purposes' which I just accepted as idiomatic. Then, at some point, I read 'intents and purposes' and thought, now that makes more sense.

In my case it was definitely not a lack of reading. I was a voracious reader, and read adult books from quite early. Instead it was because two of my teachers, and particularly one Maths teacher, used the phrase a lot. Still, could be worse: one man I knew thought for much of his childhood that highway men said "stand on your liver! I've also seen quite a few "case on point". But that's almost the same as "case in point"… well, not quite. There are a couple of suggestions that people interpret the expression relative to the line "point, set, match".

I'm sorry, this is not a sports metaphor—it's specifically a tennis metaphor. As such, it is highly unlikely to be particularly common outside of circles where tennis is popular, which is to say a fairly small minority of English speakers. The connection is spurious and just silly. The "case and point" eggcorn is far more common. It is also not unique in "in" being exchanged for "and" in either direction.

There are others. I should clarify—I don't mean to say that it's never connected to the tennis metaphor. But, the point is that the majority of examples of "case and point" don't offer an emphatic punctuation of this kind but are rather used where one would have expected to find "case in point". In these cases, there is no connection to tennis.

Case In Point

Besides, "point" is the lowest scoring mechanism in tennis". This is followed by game, set and match—and, in fact, that trio is often used as emphatic punctuation metaphor on its own. Why would "point" be substituted for those three? It clearly is, on rare occasion, but the mechanism is not clear. In your case, it would be the one with the apostrophe: won't. But I briefly Googled for phrases like that, and found what ShadowFox implied, that "game, set and match" may be quite common but versions involving the word "point" are not so common.

People say "match point" or "game point" but not, say, "point and match", certainly not "match and point".

Case in point

Why, then, does "case and point" evoke tennis to us readers? Maybe it's a chain of associations. The phenomenon of sight-pronunciations by bookish people was used recently for comic effect in the movie Megamind. Will Ferrell, as the title character a space-alien genius raised by convicts to be an unworldly supervillain , has a number of habitual mispronunciations, such as "Metro City" rhyming with "atrocity" and "school" as "shool" this last may be a crypto-Yiddishism as well.

You aren't going to hear "case and point", because "and" and "in" when unstressed are pronounced identically or nearly so. Not differently enough that one would notice if someone was saying "case and point" instead of "case in point". Not unless someone had reason to give "and" it's stressed pronunciation, which I think would be quite rare.

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He missed the case for euphonics. Garrison Keillor did an amusing routine about people who get most of their vocabulary from reading. I disagree. Perhaps you read this as stagn ant ly? Stagn ate ly , which Goodman wrote, would be the opposite of act ate ly , I think, were either of them words, that is. I suspect that phrase was derived from the military phrase "on station" meaning a ship or other vehicle had arrived and was remaining at the location where it had been ordered to go.

I'm not sure in retrospect whether that applied only to manned spacecraft. I also learned that 'nominal' in NASA space flight terms meant 'normal, as expected, according to plan', rather than 'a token or insignificant amount'. Never quite got used to that one. LDavidH: I'm pretty sure that for every person who disapproves of stressing the first syllable of "hospitable" there's another who disapproves of not stressing it. It is absolutely logical and appropriate to blame the majority of these cases on lack of reading.

Frequent readers of this blog will know that "logical" does not make true, especially when it comes to language use.