Writing Tip #87

Renown versus Renowned. Last week, I received a press release with the subject line: Dr. [So-and-So] — Renown Pediatrician and Author.


I was hoping the error was simply the result of a hasty subject line writer, but unfortunately the mistake was repeated within the email itself, which landed the press release into the trash simply on principle (not principal).

The word renown is a noun. It means fame and cannot be used to modify another noun:

BABY GRAND is destined for worldwide renown. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)

The word renowned is an adjective. It means famous and, as we all know, adjectives can modify nouns:

BABY GRAND is destined to become a world-renowned novel. (I ask again, Wouldn’t that be nice?)

If you find that you just can’t seem to remember this, try using their meanings — fame and famous — as clues: The shorter word is the noun, while the longer word is the adjective.

What words do you often mix up?


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