mad cow disease

Acceptable on first reference but then specify the full name which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a progressive neurological disease that afflicts cattle. The disorder caused in humans by eating meat from diseased cattle is called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


Use Chennai, India.


Usually North Africa minus Egypt. Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Note that Al-Maghrib is an alternative in Arabic for Morocco.


Use this word with care. When used as a verb, it can suggest reporters are sceptical about the statement quoted.


Avoid as an adjective. If it is not superfluous find a precise alternative. One exception is golf, where the four biggest tournaments are known as the majors.

majority, plurality

Majority means more than half of an amount. Plurality means more than the next highest number. When majority and plurality are used alone, they take singular verbs and pronouns: "The majority has made its decision" but with the possessive the usage is a plural verb, "the majority of the houses on the block were destroyed".

man, mankind

Either may be used when both men and women are involved and no other term is convenient. Frequently the best choice is a substitute such as "person", "individual" or "humanity" to avoid gender issues.

manufacture, manufacturer

Make or maker is shorter.

Mardi Gras

The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent in Christianity. Also known in some countries as Carnival. A day of celebration before Lenten asceticism.


Capitalize when referring to the U.S. Marine Corps or when referring to its members. e.g., Six U.S. Marines, Marine operations. Do not refer to them as "soldiers.”

mark to market

An accounting requirement that securities must be valued at their current price, rather than the purchase price or the price they might fetch later. Sometimes referred to as "fair value" accounting.


The second largest city in France, after Paris. Use Marseille, not the alternative Marseilles.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

U.S. federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., who was born Jan. 15, 1929, is on the third Monday in January. It was first celebrated in 1986.


Always capitalize when referring to the ceremony in many Christian churches, but lowercase any preceding adjectives: high Mass, low Mass, requiem Mass, sung Mass etc. Also Mass is usually "celebrated", not "said". Remember some churches do not use the word Mass but prefer "eucharist" or "communion".


OK for American usage; otherwise use “military equipment.”


Unless you mean take bodily form it is simpler to write happen or occur or take place.

May Day, Mayday

May Day is a May 1 holiday in large parts of the world. Originally a spring fertility festival, involving dancing around a maypole and other rites, it is now often associated with the labor union movement. Mayday is the international radiotelephone distress signal, used by ships and aircraft.


Use doctor, physician or surgeon.

mean, average, median, norm

Mean, in its sense used in arithmetic and statistics, is an average and is determined by adding the series of numbers and dividing the sum by the number of cases: The mean temperature of five days with temperatures of 67, 62, 68, 69, 64 is 66. Median is the middle number of points in a series arranged in order of size: The median grade in the group of 50, 55, 85, 88, 92 is 85. The average is 74. Norm implies a standard of average performance for a given group: The child was below the norm for his age in reading comprehension.


See dimensions.


One of Islam’s holy places. Do not use in a colloquial sense since it is disparaging, e.g., “tourist mecca.”

Medal of Honor

The highest U.S. military honor, awarded by Congress. Do not refer to "Congressional Medal of Honor."

Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) (Doctors Without Borders)

Reuters uses the official name of the international medical humanitarian organization Medecins San Frontieres on first reference which can be abbreviated to MSF on further reference. Doctors Without Borders in parentheses is acceptable after the official name on first reference.


Use medical evacuation.

mediation, arbitration

these are not synonyms. Usually, one who arbitrates hears evidence from all people concerned, then hands down a decision. One who mediates listens to arguments of both parties and tries by the exercise of reason or persuasion to bring them to an agreement.

medical stories

Handle stories about new threats to health or reputed cures for AIDS, cancer and other scourges with great care. They play on the hopes and fears of millions of people. If a story making dramatic claims for a cure for AIDS or cancer does not come from a reputable named source it must be checked with recognized medical experts.

Medicaid, Medicare

In the U.S, Medicaid is a federal-state program that helps pay for health care for the needy, aged, blind and disabled, and for low-income families with children. A state determines eligibility and which health services are covered. The federal government reimburses a percentage of the state’s expenditures. In the U.S, Medicare is the federal health care insurance program for people aged 65 and over, and for the disabled. Eligibility is based mainly on eligibility for Social Security. Medicare helps pay charges for hospitalization, for stays in skilled nursing facilities, for physician’s charges and for some associated health costs. There are limitations on the length of stay and type of care. In Canada, Medicare refers to the nation’s national health insurance program.


Avoid as a prefix meaning very large. Use only when it means one million. May be fused per regional dictionary.


A piece of information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that's shared verbally or transmitted widely, often in social media.

merger, takeover, acquition

Few business combinations are a true merger of equals, so be precise. Merger is not a synonym for acquisition or takeover, which should be the preferred description usually.


A fresh and vivid metaphor can add color to story, but avoid mixed metaphors which scramble the imagery, e.g. "The Egyptian swimmers walked away with the championship", “The spread turned negative after a pullback in the S&P 500 opened the door to the last leg of the market rally”, or odd juxtapositions, e.g. "a growing bottleneck". Think twice before using a metaphor drawn from sport. They are often particular to a single sport or culture and are difficult to translate. Not everyone knows what you mean by bowling a googly, a full court press or standing up to the plate.

metric system

When abbreviating metric units use the singular form without a full stop, e.g., kg or km not kgs or kms. The following need not be spelled out on first mention: kg, km, lb, cm, mm and m. The Lynx Editor conversion function will will abbreviate most measures automatically. Convert metres to feet for distances up to 10 metres, to yards for longer distances. To convert metres to feet, multiply by 3.28; to convert metres to yards multiply by 1.094. See also conversions, pound and ton/tone, and http://www.megaconverter.com/mega2/

metric ton

We use both tons and tonnes, without having to give a conversion, but you must make clear what kind of ton(ne) is meant, using the terms long and short where appropriate. The three measures are: tonne – 2,204.6 pounds (1,000 kg), formerly called metric ton long ton – 2,240 pounds (or 20 hundredweights, 20 x 112 pounds). short ton – 2,000 pounds, American ton

Middle Ages, medieval

Referring to European history, usually the period from the fall of Rome in A.D. 476 to the Italian Renaissance around 1400 AD.

middle initials in names

Do not use them unless they are an essential distinguisher.

Middle East

The term usually included Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and Sudan. Compare Maghreb.


Do not say “12 midnight.” It is part of the day that is ending, not the one that is beginning.

Midwest (U.S.)

In the U.S., the Midwest region as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes the states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin in the east of the area, and Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota in the west.


The word migrant usually describes a person moving from one region or country to another to seek employment or residence without implying anything about the legalities of such travel. In the US context, "illegal immigrant" is the preferred term, rather than "undocumented worker" or "illegal alien" which is sometimes used by the U.S. government. By contrast, the word refugee usually refers to a person who is forced to leave his home or country to escape persecution, war, or natural disaster.


To convert to kilometers, multiply by 1.609.

miles per gallon

Use the abbreviation mpg only for second and subsequent references.

miles per hour

Use the abbreviation mph only for second and subsequent references.


Usually a person who takes military action or uses armed force in support of a cause or policy or party, as opposed to just peaceful protest.

The term is overused though so try to be more specific in describing the actions of the parties.  


If in doubt about the following terms, use the generic term or leave it out. Avoid military jargon, and be on the lookout for euphemisms that have snuck into the language. Jargon is encouraged in the armed forces to reduce the emotional element in the business of killing people, to encourage secrecy and to reduce the number of words in issuing orders. Faced by an inquisitive civilian, the military may deliberately obfuscate or evade admissions of defeat or error with an avalanche of esoteric terms and acronyms. Know them, but do not use them. For example collateral damage, military-speak for striking unintended targets, whether people or buildings. Also, friendly fire, which means attacking your own side by mistake in combat. Do not use either unless in quotes. Prefer plain English. Similarly, avoid military metaphors.


AWACS – Airborne Warning And Control System. Aircraft equipped with search radar, height-finding radar and communications equipment for controlling weapons, generally other aircraft, surveillance and early warning. The United States uses modified Boeing 707s with rotating radar domes above the fuselage. The U.S. Navy uses a smaller AWACS, the twin-engine turboprop E2C Hawkeye with a revolving dome. It flies from aircraft carriers and is built by Northrop Grumman Corp. Helicopters – Helicopters are also aircraft. A spokesman who mentions aircraft could be referring to fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters or both. stealth – U.S. stealth aircraft are the F-117A Nighthawk fighter, which is in fact a small bomber flown by a single crew member and designed for night attack on ground targets, not aerial warfare, and the larger B-2 “flying-wing” bomber manned by two or three crew and able to carry 16 2,000-pound (900 kg) satellite-guided bombs. Both aircraft are subsonic. They depend for their safety on carbon-based composite building materials and an unusual shape that absorbs radar signals or reflects them at angles that make the aircraft difficult to detect for useful periods of time. Do not capitalize “stealth.” STOL – short take-off and landing. See also VTOL. strafe – to attack with machine guns or rockets from the air. Do not use in referring to aerial bombing or ground-to-ground attacks. UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The Predator is a U.S.-built UAV that is primarily used to collect intelligence but can act as an offensive weapon, sometimes equipped with two Hellfire missiles. The Global Hawk with a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737’s can loiter high above the area it is monitoring for more than 24 hours while the Dragoneye is a tiny unmanned scout aircraft for reconnaissance by ground troops. VTOL – vertical take-off and landing. warplane – One word. It is a useful one for the lead paragraph, but it is better in most cases to be specific (fighter, bomber), although some aircraft can carry out a variety of missions, such as the F16. The Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt is a ground-attack aircraft designed to support ground forces. The Panavia Tornado is a multirole combat aircraft. The B-52 is a long-range bomber. In financial stories and when dealing with contracts, sales and development, put the manufacturer’s name (and company) before the aircraft type.

Armoured Vehicles

If in doubt about the name of any of these just call it an armored vehicle. An artillery piece such as a gun or howitzer may be mounted on tracks or wheels and be self-propelled. Journalists have mistaken self-propelled guns for tanks. armored fighting vehicle (AFV) – Neither a tank nor an armored personnel carrier, but a hybrid evolved in an era of fast-paced warfare in which infantry must keep up with tanks. An AFV like the Bradley Fighting Vehicle used by the U.S. military carries a squad of infantry. The Soviet-designed BMP-1 carries infantry and is armed with an antitank missile launcher and a 73mm gun. The British GKN Warrior is a 25-tonne tracked armored vehicle with a 30mm cannon. armored personnel carrier (APC) – A tracked or wheeled vehicle that carries small groups of infantry into battle. It provides protection against small-arms fire and shell splinters, and may be armed with machineguns. The Soviet designed BTR-60 has gunports down the side. tank – The main battlefield weapon, combining firepower, mobility and protection. They are tracked, and usually armed with a large gun of perhaps 105mm, 120mm or 130mm caliber firing with the help of computerized target selection and fire control. Shells hardened with depleted uranium may be used to pierce armor. The secondary armament consists of one or more machineguns. The M1-A1 and M1-A2 Abrams used by the U.S. army have top speeds of 40 mph (60 kph). The British Challenger tank is designed to survive nuclear, chemical and biological attack. Reporters should make sure a tank is a tank and not an APC—a too common mistake.


battlefield – one word. Also battlefront and battleground. battledress – A loose, drab uniform, comprising a single overall or jacket and trousers, that blends in with the environment, provides protection against extreme weather and allows plenty of movement. Write “soldiers in battle gear” to refer to soldiers wearing the harness known as webbing that supports ammunition clips, grenades, water bottles, entrenching tools, ground sheet and rations. BDA – Military shorthand for Bomb Damage Assessment. Avoid both unless in quotes. Spell out BDA in parentheses if used in a quote biological warfare – The use in warfare of microorganisms to cause death or disease. ceasefire – one word chemical warfare – The use of chemicals other than explosives, e.g., gas. fighting – This is relative. It ranges from hand-to-hand combat to the risk of an exchange of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Avoid “fierce” fighting and “heavy” fighting unless casualties are known to be heavy or the fire intense. Spell out what is meant. “Infantry fighting” is not simply combatants on foot. It implies a set-piece engagement, not, for instance, a few militiamen jumping garden walls and blasting away with rifles. gunbattle – one word. So also gunfire, gunman and gunpoint. offensive – An offensive is more specific than an attack. It is an extensive attack over days, weeks or months often on a wide front or an entire theater of a campaign or war by air, sea or ground forces and sometimes all three. raid – Use only when a force attacks and then leaves an objective, as opposed to occupying it.

Military titles

Ranks should never be abbreviated even when ordinal numbers are involved and should be capitalized when referring to a specific individual. In general, ranks in the armed forces of the main English-speaking countries such as the United States, Britain and Australia are not hyphenated, e.g., lieutenant colonel, rear admiral, air chief marshal. However, there are exceptions, such as Canada and India, which hyphenate their titles, and we should follow the local practice. At second and subsequent reference, use the surname OR his or her rank, e.g., Major General John Brown becomes either Brown or the general (not the major general). Ranks in the non-English-speaking world should be translated without hyphens.


warship – A naval vessel, though not necessarily an armed one. The term does imply the ship is a combatant, but a fleet auxiliary – a navy ship carrying stores, fuel and ammunition – is a warship. Warships vary in armament and in size, from a few hundred tonnes to tens of thousands. Identify the type – e.g., fast patrol-boat, corvette, frigate, destroyer, cruiser. Never use battleship as a synonym for warship. aircraft carrier – A floating airfield, it carries fixed-wing aircraft on its flight deck and/or helicopters. It should not be confused with other classes of warship, such as frigate, destroyer or cruiser. These may also carry helicopters, but they are not aircraft carriers. assault ship – A warship designed to support amphibious and air operations against a land- based enemy. They carry helicopters, landing craft, commandos or marines, and may carry amphibious armored vehicles. battleship – A specific class of warship, the battleship is obsolete. It is not to be confused with other classes like corvette, minesweeper, patrol boat, frigate, destroyer. Do not use as a synonym for warship. submarine – In naval parlance a boat rather than a ship. A submarine may fight submerged or on the surface, using torpedoes or missiles – the missiles being tactical or strategic. There are two main submarine types depending on the method of propulsion: nuclear and diesel electric.

Units, formations

Units, formations, army – Use capitals when you write the title of a specific unit, e.g., the 1st Infantry Division, but otherwise say division. Also note that there are many national exceptions to these broad definitions. squad – The basic building block of an army, equivalent to the British section of eight soldiers. Three squads or sections form a platoon. platoon – The essential tactical unit in any army, capable of patrolling, attacking and defending independently. Usually about 30-strong, an infantry. A platoon typically has three sections or squads. The platoon may be led by a sergeant or a junior commissioned officer. It may have its own light machinegun and mortar units of two or three men each as well as antitank weapons and possibly shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles. In a cavalry (armored) unit the platoon is often called a troop of three or four vehicles. Some armies use troop instead of platoon in their artillery units. company – usually three platoons commanded by a major or captain. In a cavalry unit the term squadron may be used. Artillery regiments do not use the term “company”; they may be organized in batteries of six to a dozen guns, rocket-launchers or mortars. The Royal Horse Artillery regiments, for example, are divided into five batteries. battalion – the basic building block of any big military formation, a battalion comprises about 500 to 1,000 soldiers, broken down into companies, platoons, squads or sections. It is usually commanded by a lieutenant colonel. brigade – Several battalions or regiments grouped together. Commanded by a brigadier, as in the British Army, or brigadier general. Some armies confuse reporters by using “regiment” to mean a “brigade.” division – A group of brigades. Usually commanded by a major-general, it can contain all elements needed to operate independently and is then effectively a small self-contained army. corps – Usually at least two divisions. Often commanded by a lieutenant general. army – At least two corps. Tends to be the command of a full five-star general or a marshal or field marshal. The army group – of several armies – was a feature of the big land battles of World War Two. infantry – Soldiers who fight on foot. Traditionally, infantry marched into battle. Mechanized infantry refers to foot soldiers carried to the battlefield in trucks. In modern armies, infantry is carried into battle in armored vehicles, supported by tanks and artillery. regiment – Be careful with this term. Use varies. Find out precisely what is meant in any particular case. It can be used as a synonym for either a battalion or a brigade. Also, a regiment in the British army may have one or more battalions, but these rarely serve together as or in a brigade. The 1st battalion of the Royal Halberdiers may be part of an armored brigade formed for service in the Middle East, while the 2nd battalion of the same regiment is in Scotland. special forces – Anything from the U.S. Rangers, Russia’s Spetsnaz and Britain’s Special Air Service Regiment to thugs with weapons. So-called special forces have been known to carry out such “special tasks” as ethnic cleansing, i.e., killing civilians. Use with care. Also avoid using the subjective terms “crack” and “elite.” squadron – As with regiment, be careful. Many but not all cavalry (armored) regiments are broken down into squadrons and troops. Some air forces are organized on the basis of squadrons – each with several flights – and grouped as wings. The term squadron may also refer to a group of ships, a small fleet usually put together for some particular task. task force – A force organized for a special operation. troops – Use in the plural for large, round numbers – scores, hundreds, thousands – of soldiers, not for small specific numbers. “France sent 5,000 troops to the Gulf” is right. “Guerrillas killed three government troops” is wrong. A troop may also be a small unit of armor or guns.


air-to-ground’‘‘ – hyphenate. artillery – a weapon that provides indirect fire over long distances. It comprises guns, howitzers, large mortars, multiple-rocket launchers, antiaircraft guns and missiles. Avoid saying “big guns” or “heavy artillery” to dramatize events. Some armies use heavy artillery only for guns of a caliber of 203mm and up. automatic weapon -- reloads itself and keeps firing as long as the trigger is pressed. A semiautomatic reloads itself but the trigger has to be pressed for each shot. Many types of rifle offer the option of automatic fire and semiautomatic. A pistol is not an automatic weapon, but a machine-pistol is. ballistic missile – A missile that is initially powered and may be guided but falls under gravity on to its target. It is fired upwards and then comes down. Some missiles, although not many, fly on a flat trajectory and are therefore not ballistic missiles, e.g., a cruise missile. bullet – the projectile fired from a pistol, rifle or machine gun. It is distinguished from the spent cartridge case ejected from the weapon. The entire cartridge comprises cartridge case, priming charge, propellant and bullet. bunker buster – an air-launched, laser-guided U.S. bomb of around 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) used to penetrate hardened concrete structures, often underground. caliber – the caliber of a weapon that fires bullets, or rounds, is the internal diameter of its barrel. It is expressed in millimeters or decimal fractions of an inch, e.g., a 12.7mm machinegun is equivalent to the U.S.-designed .50 caliber machine gun. Other examples: a 155mm howitzer, a 105mm field gun, an eight-inch gun, a.22 pistol, a Colt.45, a.38 revolver. cannon – A light, fast-firing weapon used to engage aircraft, ground or seaborne targets. It can be mounted in aircraft or on a truck, a tank chassis, a fast patrol boat or as the main armament on an armored vehicle. It often has more than one barrel and typically varies in caliber from 20mm up to 40mm. Cannon as a synonym for artillery is archaic and should be avoided. cluster bomb – Released from the air and contains around 200 bomblets that can penetrate armor or kill anyone stepping on them. cruise missile – A missile like the U.S. Tomahawk guided to its target using terrain-mapping radar. It can be a ground-launched cruise missile (GL-CM) or air-launched (ALCM). They can also be launched from ships and submarines. Do not capitalize “cruise.” Daisy Cutter – a large 6,800 kg (15,000 lb) U.S. bomb. e-bomb – energy pulse bomb; explain on first reference. This emits high-power microwave signals intended to cripple enemy electronics. gun – A long-range artillery weapon that fires shells through a rifled barrel over a considerable distance. A gun may be towed or self-propelled, when it moves under its own power on tracks or wheels, with the crew provided with some degree of armored protection. howitzer – An artillery piece with a relatively short barrel designed to fire at a high angle over hills or fortifications. It may be towed or it may be self-propelled. ICBM – Intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of about 3,500 miles. IRBM – Intermediate range ballistic missile machine gun – A fully automatic weapon. A light machine gun typically provides a squad or section of soldiers with fire support. Although it is called light it may be heavier than a rifle. An example is the U.S. 5.56mm M-60. A heavy machine gun is “heavy” in terms of its caliber, not its weight. It may be used to provide the main armament on a troop carrier or the secondary armament on a tank. Do not confuse with a submachine gun, which is lighter and designed for individual rather than group use. machine pistol – An old term for a weapon superseded by the submachine gun. Use the expression machine pistol only when a weapon is specifically designated as such by the manufacturer or armed forces using it. MIRV – Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle. Each of the warheads carried by this ICBM can be aimed at a different target. MOAB – Massive Ordnance Air Blast. A 9,750 kg (21,500 lb) bomb known as the “Mother of All Bombs.” mortar – A mortar fires a bomb, not a shell, from a tube. It is therefore wrong to say mortars exploded at the airport. It is correct to say mortar bombs or mortar rounds did so. The mortar bomb has fins to stabilize it in flight. It is lobbed at the target, describing a steep parabola and falling almost vertically. It can strike behind a hill, house or wall, or hit troops in trenches. Small mortars are carried by infantry, larger ones may be mounted or towed. multiple-rocket launcher – A number of tubes or racks, usually mounted on a vehicle and capable of firing rockets singly or in salvos. recoilless rifle – An antitank weapon. Although largely ineffective against most modern tanks, it is still widely used by guerrillas or militias in many countries. It looks like a tube, slightly flared at the rear end, is often mounted on wheels and is recoilless in the sense that gases from the weapon’s discharge are allowed to escape from the rear of the weapon. It fires an antitank round. Do not confuse it with a mortar or a howitzer. rifle – It has a rifled barrel, imparting spin to the bullet to help give range and stability. The trend is toward lighter, shorter and smaller caliber rifles. The automatic rifle is the infantry’s standard weapon with an effective range of 300 to 1,200 yards. It may be semiautomatic, automatic or both. Bolt-action rifles, in which each cartridge is manually placed in the breech using a bolt mechanism, are still used by snipers because of their accuracy, range and reliability. RPG – Rocket-propelled grenade. Submachine gun – An automatic weapon with many of the characteristics of a machine gun – fully automatic, a high rate of fire – but it is lighter, shorter, of smaller caliber and is designed for the individual rather than the group. It can be easily concealed. Its small size and light weight make it ideal for combat in built-up areas, for guerrilla warfare and for airborne forces. It has a short range and is less accurate than a rifle or machine gun. Definitions are blurred: a Kalashnikov AK-47 was designated a submachine gun by the former Soviet armed forces but is known as an assault rifle in the West. SAM – Surface-to-air missile, launched from the surface against an aircraft or another missile. SLBM – Ship- or submarine-launched ballistic missile. unconventional weapon – Avoid. It is often used by “conventional” military forces to refer to effective methods or weapons they do not have, do not understand and generally disapprove of. Using a bamboo spike smeared with excrement may have been unconventional to the U.S. soldier impaled on it, but it came naturally to a Vietnamese irregular. Depending on who is speaking, the term “unconventional weapons” might also mean nuclear, germ or chemical weapons. Be specific. WMD – The abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction. Spell out on first reference. Usually taken to mean biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.


Usually a group of citizen soldiers but the meaning differs from country to country and may include everything from government backed armed soldiers to rebel groups. It can include a military force raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army to a military force engaging in rebel or terrorist activities in opposition to a regular army. If in doubt avoid the term and use something more descriptive such as "armed citizens" and ensure the context clarifies their pro-government or anti-government role.


Use mm with no space, e.g., 30mm cannon.


The abbreviation mln can be used for the sake of brevity in headlines. Use numerals before million, 6 million. Do not go beyond two decimal places.


Use this word with care and never of a political protest. The neutral “crowd” is usually better unless there is an outbreak of unorganized violence. (For Mob, meaning the mafia, see dictionary.)


Use with care. Often used to describe Islam or Muslims in a particular country, implying a value judgment.


Do not use mongol or mongoloid to refer to sufferers from Down's syndrome, a form of mental retardation formed by the improper splitting of chromosomes during gestation.


Do not use full stops when abbreviating the names of months in datelines. The style is Jan, Feb, March, April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec. In tabulated lists, use only the first three letters for all months. Abbreviate names of months in text when they are used with a specific date: Jan. 19.


Little understood outside the United States. If you use “a moot point” in a quote, explain it (a debatable point).

more than

Use more than with numbers and over with less specific quantities. More than 100 or over half.


A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon Church. Only the “L” is capitalized in “Latter-day.”


Avoid as a noun. Prefer decision, agreement, or another more precise alternative.

move to

This phrase is often used to give a spurious sense of physical action when in fact the only action has been verbal, e.g., “Clinton moved to head off congressional opposition to his budget plans when he said...” Avoid it.

mpg, mph

miles per gallon, miles per hour – both acceptable at second and subsequent references, both lower case and without full stops. Spell out miles per gallon and miles per hour in full on first reference.

Muhammad, Mohammad

The chief prophet of Islam. Spelling varies widely in English. Reuters uses Mohammad, AP uses Muhammad. Use other spellings for persons of this name only if preferred by the person in question (the boxer is Muhammad Ali) or if the title of an organization is involved. Spelling of Muslim names tends to vary depending on whether the transliteration is from some dialect of Arabic or from Farsi (Iran), or Turkish etc. Hence Egypt tends to use Mohamed; Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon tends to use Muhammad; Morocco uses Muhammed; Iran uses Mohammad.

mujahideen, mujahedeen

A term for Islamic militant groups, meaning "holy warriors". Lowercase when using the Arabic for holy warriors; uppercase if it is part of the name of a group. Spelling in English varies. Reuters uses mujahideen. AP uses mujahedeen, but if a recognized group is referenced use the spelling of the official name. The Iranian opposition group is Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, while Jaysh al-Mujahedeen is a coalition of Islamist rebel groups which formed in order to fight the Islamic State group. See also Islamic State [[1]]


A Muslim scholar, teacher or leader.


Not Bombay, India, unless in a proper name.


Use this word only for violent deaths that have no political overtones and generally avoid unless there has been a conviction. Otherwise stick to killing unless the word murder is used in a criminal charge or trial.


Capitalize, but do not use quotation marks, on descriptive titles for orchestral works: Bach's Suite No. 1 for Orchestra; Beethoven's Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola.


An adjective or noun that usually describes adherents of Islam. The adjective Islamic is usually used to describer the culture, architecture, music, or finance of the religion Islam.

Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic religious, political and social movement, founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna which has spread to other Muslim countries.

Muslim dress

Islamic head coverings worn by women are all referred to as hijab, a term that encompasses garments ranging from headscarves that simply cover the hair to cloaks that cover the entire head, face and body. Styles vary between geographic regions. Among the better known are: The burqa, an enveloping circular cloak traditionally worn in parts of Afghanistan and some other regions of south and central Asia that covers the entire head and body, sometimes with a mesh over the face to ease vision. Note - Reuters uses the spelling burqa, not burka. The chador, a loose full-length cloth traditionally worn in Iran and among Shi’ite Muslims in some other countries, that covers the head and body but not the face. The niqab, a cover for the head, face and shoulders which sometimes has a slit for the eyes. It can also refer to a veil that hangs across the face from the bridge of the nose in conjunction with a headscarf. It is traditional in Gulf Arab countries, usually worn with the abaya, a loose, full-length, long-sleeved gown.


Describes someone who is physically unable to speak. People who have difficulty speaking are speech-impaired.

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