Do you know there’s a disgusting part in “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” aka “T’was the Night Before Christmas”? Here it is:
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
That’s right; he threw up the sash. Yuck! Now, if I’d been copyediting this poem, I would have changed it to “threw the sash up” and suggested the author find an alternative rhyme to replace flash/sash.
I usually let the writer’s style prevail, except when it comes to throwing up. It’s amazing how many times I’ll come across someone in a book throwing up his hands. Oh no, you don’t! No throwing up hands when I’m here!
I’m not alone in having a pet copyediting peeve. A colleague of mine refuses to let the word “snuck” sneak by and always changes it to “sneaked.” Another hates “donuts” saying it looks like it should be pronounced “doo-nuts.” (As in, “He threw up the donuts”? I can’t imagine such a thing happening with doughnuts.) Another cannot tolerate the word “pert”and simply changes it without even querying the author. Ah, if only it were that simple to remove all that annoying, dare I say nauseating, pertness from the world! Who would miss it? Certainly not I.
Luckily for Clement Clarke Moore, most readers are too sidetracked looking up the definition of “sash” to notice any throwing up.