Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Slingshot vs. Sling

This front page photo in yesterday's New York Times reminded me of a little pet peeve of mine. No, not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a different pet peeve: people who confuse slings with slingshots. The most common manifestation of this confusion is showing or describing the Biblical character David killing Goliath with a slingshot. This is wrong. It was a sling, which is a different thing altogether.

The weapon shown in the picture above is a sling. It's the weapon David used to kill Goliath. (I wonder if the Palestinian youth is aware of the irony of using a sling against Israel.) You put a projectile in the pouch, twirl it around, and release one of the strands at the right time, sending the projectile flying at the target.

A slingshot looks like this (image from Wikipedia):
There. Now you know the difference and won't be one of those people that annoys me so much.


Anonymous Mad Latinist said...

Well, David killed Goliath with a sling shot, but not a slingshot. And historically the word slingshot derives from a misunderstanding of that compound.

As for your question, the answer is "yes."

5:18 AM, March 14, 2007  
Anonymous Miguel said...

The current New Yorker has a Malcom Gladwell article which riffs on the story of David and Goliath, and he says everyone remembers the slingshot part of the tale.

8:46 PM, May 13, 2009  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thanks, Miguel. That annoys the crap out of me that The New Yorker's copy editors didn't catch that.

10:01 PM, May 13, 2009  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Here's the article where Gladwell makes the sling-slingshot conflation error:


He came at Goliath with a slingshot and staff because those were the tools of his trade. He didn’t know that duels with Philistines were supposed to proceed formally, with the crossing of swords. “When the lion or the bear would come and carry off a sheep from the herd, I would go out after him and strike him down and rescue it from his clutches,” David explained to Saul. He brought a shepherd’s rules to the battlefield.

2:13 AM, May 14, 2009  
Blogger Anthony said...

Just to note - a slingshot is actually pretty deadly too.

A friend of mine made his out of 16 gauge steel wire and loaded it with marbles. He killed birds with it.

6:54 AM, May 14, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which is stronger?

1:08 PM, June 21, 2009  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

A sling is generally "stronger" in that it is more deadly. A sling is a weapon, whereas a slingshot is mostly a toy. If a slingshot were made with sufficiently high pull, I imagine it could be deadly, too.

3:52 AM, June 24, 2009  

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