There’s one particular idiom I find exceptionally irritating: “sea change“, when used with no sea shore in sight. Use that phrase, and I will judge not only your writing — I will judge you.
But this post does not represent an effort to explain my (perhaps irrational) dislike for “sea change”. I write instead to identify one particular instance in which an author’s desire to properly use this most improper of phrases led directly to the displacement of one object of my (perhaps irrational) affection — a pun:
In a recent article that appeared in TIME titled, “The Everyday Sexism of Women Waiting in Public Toilet Lines“, media critic and activist Soraya Chemaly decried the fact that men and women are often allocated equally-proportioned facilities. To clarify the point, her article was subtitled, “Long lines for women’s restrooms are the result of a history that favors men’s bodies.”
However, Chemaly notes, that history may be coming to an end (emphasis added): “In the United States, laws are rapidly changing, largely due to effective LGTBQ advocacy and a generational sea change in how gender is understood.”
Get it together, Chemaly. You’re writing about the potty. The idiom you were obviously reaching for is “pee change”.