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Palate, palette

Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012, at 8:24 AM

I got a news release from a children's science museum in Murfreesboro announcing an upcoming fund-raiser.

The event, I was interested to learn, will be "palette-pleasing," because of the hors d'oeuvre being provided by a nearby Italian restaurant.

Here begins the vocabulary lesson.

"Palette" is the flat surface used by a painter to hold and mix small amounts of thick oil or acrylic paint. The word is also used metaphorically to mean a selection of colors.

"Palate" is the roof of your mouth. You have a hard palate close to your teeth, and a soft palate further back. The word is also used metaphorically to mean someone's sense of taste, as in, "He has a refined palate."

Unless she was referring to the decor -- and she wasn't -- the museum's PR person should have referred to the event as "palate-pleasing."

Normally, I wouldn't give stuff like this a second thought. But when it comes in a professional news release from an education-oriented non-profit, it kind of annoys me.

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John I. Carney
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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