Hone in

Wrong. The correct expression is home in, not hone in. Originally used to refer to the behavior of homing pigeons, the phrase was appropriated by the military to refer to aircraft homing in on a directional beacon and missiles homing in on their targets. Today the expression is most often used metaphorically to signify any movement toward a specified target.

To hone, by contrast, means to sharpen or make more acute: you hone a knife or hone your skills. It makes no sense to say that you hone in on a goal. This increasingly common error probably results from one’s mistakenly hearing home in as hone in. Whatever the source may be, careful writers and speakers must avoid committing this verbal faux pas.

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Filed under Grammar and Usage Errors

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