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Note hyphen.

dais, lectern, podium, pulpit, rostrum

A speaker stands behind a lectern (a stand for notes) on a podium and in a pulpit. Several speakers can fit on a dais or rostrum or platform.

Dalai Lama

Tibet’s most revered spiritual leader, seen by Tibetans as the reincarnation of a long line of Buddhist god-kings. The Panchen Lama is the second highest figure in Tibet’s spiritual hierarchy.


Use dashes sparingly, never to set off relative clauses in a sentence. For the sake of clarity, dashes should be double (–) and hyphens single (-). A single dash may be used as a separator in alerts and headlines where space is tight, but not in text. Dashes are followed by lower case unless they are used to label sections of a list: The study concluded: – Four out of five people said they preferred watching television to playing sport – Only one in 10 respondents had played sport in the past month – Six out of 10 had watched sport on television in the past month


Strictly a plural noun, but treat as if it were singular, e.g. The data was corrupted.


One word.


Use the sequence month/day/year, e.g. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2., 1990, led to... or the August 2 invasion or the August 1990 invasion. If a specific date is used, put the year inside commas. Spell out months in text but abbreviate them followed by a full stop when they are used with a specific date – Jan.1, Feb. 14, Aug. 5, Sept. 11, Oct. 24, Nov. 5, Dec. 25.

In datelines, use Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec with no full stop. If you need to abbreviate for a table use the first three letters of each month: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec. There is no full stop. When spelling out duration, write the tournament runs from May 22 to 24 not runs from May 22-24. Write arrived on Monday not arrived Monday and on Tuesday, on Wednesday, on Thursday rather than yesterday, today, tomorrow. An exception is made for copy in the Americas, where because of subscriber preferences our style is to drop the “on” before days of the week. Write the 1939-45 war but from 1939 to 1945 not from 1939-45. Similarly between 1939 and 1945 and not between 1939-45. Write 9/11, not 9-11.

daughter-in-law, daughters-in-law

daylight-saving time

days of the week

Capitalise them and do not abbreviate. If necessary in tabulation abbreviate without a full stop: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun

day to day

Hyphenate if used as an adjective. We live from day to day and find our food on a day-to-day basis.


Allies' invasion of France, June 6, 1944.


Drug Enforcement Administration (U.S.).


Describe people as deaf only if they are totally without hearing. Otherwise write that their hearing is impaired or that they have only partial hearing. Never use deaf and dumb. See stereotypes and value judgments


Both noun and adjective.

death toll

Two words.


1960s not 1960’s. The early forties, sixties, seventies.

decided, decisive

If you have decided views which are clear and resolute it is easier to make a decision and be decisive.


Figures are normally rounded to two significant decimals, with halves rounded upwards. Thus 15.564 becomes 15.56, while 15.565 becomes 15.57.


Literally to reduce by one-tenth, loosely to reduce very heavily. Not, however, to virtually wipe out.


You are defeated by something not to something. Do not write West Bromwich Albion’s defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

defence, but American style is defense


definite, definitive

Definite means fixed, exact or clear. Definitive conveys elements of limiting or final. The board made a definite decision about its definitive offer.


Usually adds little as either an adverb or an ajective. Avoid.


No need to use, now defunct.

defuse, diffuse

To defuse is to make something harmless, to diffuse is to disperse.


A measurement used in the consumption and trading of energy. It is a difference of one degree for one day compared with a standard average temperature for that day.


Indicate the omission of words from a quoted passage by using three full stops with a space before and after (also known as ellipsis), e.g. “We will fight ... and we will win.” The word after the dots is capitalised if it is part of a new sentence, e.g. “We will fight and we will win ... We will never surrender”. You may drop words in this way only if the deletion does not alter the sense of the quote.


To delight is a transitive verb that requires an object. Jane Bloggs delighted her fans with an easy victory not Jane Bloggs delighted with an easy victory. Delight is a strong verb. Use sparingly and to good effect.


Not demagog.


Means death or to transfer on death, not just decline or decay.

demolished, destroyed

Do not write totally demolished, totally destroyed. Both words imply complete destruction.



Never qualify a denial, e.g. flatly denied, categorically denied, unless quoting someone. A no comment is not a denial. Write declined to comment rather than refused to comment, which suggests that the person you spoke to was under an obligation to comment. See rebut, refute.

denote, connote

Denote is to indicate or mark by a sign. A wedding ring denoted his married status. Connote is to imply attributes. Marriage connotes short-term bliss. Both words are probably best avoided.

dependant, dependent

The person in a state of dependency is a dependant. He is dependent. But American style uses dependent as both noun and adjective.


Express disapproval of, deplore. Do not confuse with depreciate.


A gradual change in the value of a currency usually as a result of market forces. Do not confuse with devaluation, when a government orders a weaking currency change.


A period of low economic activity with high unemployment and numerous business failures. Capitalise when referring to the one in October, 1929: the Great Depression. See also recession, slump.


Convert metres to feet not yards. One metre equals 3.28 feet.


Do not use to mean member of parliament. Although it is often encountered as a literal translation from several European languages, it can have other meanings in the English-speaking world. Legislator is preferred.

de rigueur

Not de rigeur. Best avoided.



Hyphenate. Capitalise the first word, but only if used as a formal title before a name, President-designate Joan Brown but chairman-designate.


Use dispatch for the noun and verb, although send is a better substitute for the verb.


despite the fact that

Use although.


The easing or end of strained relations between countries.


A downwards change in the value of a currency, the opposite of revaluation, and usually imposed by government order. Do not confuse with depreciation which is a more gradual change usually brought about by market forces.

device, devise

Device is the noun, devise is the verb.


diagnosis, prognosis

Diagnose a disease not a person. Prognosis is forecasting, or a forecast, especially of a disease.

diarrhoea, but diarrhea in American style


Use of the word dictator implies a value judgment, so avoid it unless quoting someone.


Use Chambers 20th Century Dictionary as a reference. Use the first spelling listed. However, America uses Webster’s New World College Dictionary.




differ from, differ with

If you differ from someone you are unlike each other. If you differ with someone then you disagree. The expression differ from can be used in both senses.


Can often be excised, as in Yorkshire produces six different types of cheese.

from, different to

Prefer different from, which is acceptable in all contexts, rather than different to or different than.

diffuse, defuse

To diffuse is to disperse, to defuse is to make something harmless.


Not dyke.


Not delapidated.


Do not use simply to mean a problem. A dilemma arises when faced with two (or more) undesirable alternatives.


Note the h after the p.

disabled people

As with a person’s race or sex, we should mention physical disabilities only if they are relevant to the story. Report disabilities without sentimentality or condescension. See stereotypes and value judgments

disassemble, dissemble

Disassemble is to take apart, dissemble is to conceal or disguise, or be a hypocrite.


Use dissociate.


Do not devalue this word by overuse. Avoid it in sports reporting.

disc, disk

Use disk when writing about computers, disc in all other contexts. Slipped disc but computer hard disk.


Not discernable.

discomfit, discomfort

Discomfit is to rout, defeat, balk or disconcert. It is much stronger than discomfort which is to make uneasy or deprive of comfort.

discount rate

Most central banks do not use this expression any more, so find out the relevant interest rate they use in a specific country to guide the base level of interest rates.


Find is shorter and better.

discreet, discrete

Discreet is prudent or modest while discrete is separate.

discriminatory language

Do not use language that perpetuates sexual, racial, religious or other stereotypes. Such language is offensive, out of date and often simply inaccurate. A person’s gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or marital status should not be cited unless it is relevant to the story. Even then, consideration must be given to where in the story such information needs to be placed. It is wrong to assume that police, firefighters or soldiers are men. Police is shorter than policemen anyway. Do not describe a woman’s dress or hairstyle where you would not describe a man’s. Where possible use the same term for men and women, e.g. mayor or poet, not mayoress or poetess. Use chairman, chairwoman not chair; spokesman, spokeswoman not spokesperson.


Do not capitalise e.g. leukemia, pneumonia, except when named after a person e.g. Parkinson's disease.

disinterested, uninterested

Disinterested means impartial while uninterested means the opposite of interested. People can be both interested in an issue and disinterested.


Use disorient, which is shorter.


Not despatch. Including dispatch rider, mentioned in dispatches, and dispatch box. In most cases send is better, as of troops, aid, etc.


Dispelled, dispelling.


Not dispensible. Think of dispensation.

disposal, disposition

Disposal is get rid of, disposition is arrange or distribute.


Use figures figures for 10 and above, spell out one to nine miles/km.

distinct, distinctive

Distinct means separate, clear, well-defined. Distinctive is a distinguishing quality. A distinct mark on his forehead made him distinctive from his twin brother.

district attorney

Do not abbreviate to DA. Capitalise before a name: District Attorney Jack Walton.

DJIA or the Dow

The Dow Jones industrial average is the main benchmark U.S. stock market index.

dive, dived

Not dove for past tense.


Male or female.


Use Transdniestria for the region of Moldova, not Dnestr.


When used as title for a physician, abbreviate to Dr without a full stop. Do not use Dr for doctors of philosophy, etc.


Department of Defense, the Pentagon (U.S.). Avoid using the acronym.

dollar sign

Use the dollar sign $ before numbers, e.g. $100. Use upper-case abbreviations A, C, HK etc. immediately before the dollar sign (no space in between) to indicate Australian, Canadian, Hong Kong and other non-U.S. dollars, e.g. C$6.4 billion. The following non-U.S. dollars can be abbreviated after first reference: Australia (A), Brunei (B), Canada (C), Fiji (F), Hong Kong (HK), Jamaica (J), New Zealand (NZ), Singapore (S), Taiwan (T) and Zimbabwe (Z). If there is no letter before the $ sign, readers will assume U.S. dollars are meant.

domino, dominoes

do’s and don’ts


Double-barrelled, double-breasted, double-cross, but double fault in tennis, doubleheader.


Not donut, unless it is part of a formal company name.

douse, dowse

Douse is to plunge into water, to splash or to extinguish. Dowse is to search for underground water using a divining rod.


One word in Alpine skiing.


One word.


Write play down.

Down’s syndrome

Do not use mongol or mongoloid. American style is Down syndrome.


Write central Paris not downtown Paris.

draft, draught

Use draft for a sketch, a detachment of men, a money order, draught for a drink or the depth to which a ship sinks in water.


A much overworked word. If an event is dramatic it should be clear from the story.

driving licence, but American style driver's license

drop out, dropout

The verb is drop out, the noun dropout.

drop shot

Two words in tennis.


He drowned, or he drowned his cat, but not he was drowned, unless by someone else.

drunk, drunken

I am drunk, he is drunk, but drunken behaviour, drunken driver, not drunk driver. Also dunkenness, not drunkeness.


Not Druse. A sect of Islam whose adherents live mainly in Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

dual, duel

Dual is twofold, e.g. dual-purpose. A duel is a fight between two people.

dual listing

A company which is listed on more than one stock exchange.


Due is an adjective and must modify a noun or a pronoun. It cannot modify a verb. When in doubt replace it with because of, owing to or caused by. It is correct to write The drop in temperature was due to a broken window but not The temperature dropped due to a broken window. The simple rule is if in doubt always use because of.

due process

Can mean several things. Make sure the meaning is clear.

Duesseldorf, Germany


Not duffle. From the town of Duffel, near Antwerp.


Use mute.


Not Dunkerque.

dwarf, dwarfs

Not dwarves.

dyeing, dying

Dyeing changes the colour of clothes. Dying is destined for death.


Use dike.

dynamo, dynamos


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