Delta (spotted in the Roanoke [VA] Times)

School funding issue dominates council debate
March 12, 2010

…The Republicans targeted what they view as waste in the city’s budget. They particularly rallied around an early statement by Craig that placed city government budget growth over the last decade at $83 million.

“I think that there’s room in that $83 million delta between 2000 and 2010 to take care of a lot of the problems in the schools,” Craig said. “Besides that, as I told you, the resourcing of the schools is idiotic. It makes no sense.”

…Trinkle fired back on that point, arguing that the city budget is currently at its 2007 level, and that the school budget is at its 2006 level.

“You can talk about magic money, you can talk about an $83 million delta,” Trinkle said. “But all money is green, and the fact of the matter is we have supported the schools well. Our schools are supported in the top third when you look at all cities in the state of Virginia.”

Oh, you guys. You do not squeak by on this one just because you referred to a difference. Your use of delta is unnecessary, pretentious and wrong. A delta does not “take care of problems,” any more than it compares to “magic money.” Frankly, unless you’re talking accounting, finance, mathematics or science, you should not be using the word. It’s useful only for padding your verbiage.

But at least now I know how my client picked up delta as a weasel word. Apparently, it’s out there in wide circulation — and on both ends of the political spectrum, as noted in the article. Everybody, for the sake of the children, please stop!


Case and point (spotted on the ‘net)

Another suggestion, this time submitted via Facebook. Our reader writes:

Nothing like naming your software company after a misheard idiom.

I have not heard this one personally, but a quick Google search (I searched for “case and point” in quotation marks) reveals a small, but troubling proliferation of this incorrect construction. Will it become the next mute point?

Otto E. Mezzo


Thank you for your understanding

I was cleaning out my inbox when I came upon this gem.
— Otto E. Mezzo

> Per your request, [website] can be altered via any number of best
> practices strategies available to the company at this present time.
> Suggestions that can be made leveraging the latest technologies to
> incent conversion and user engagement consist of:
> • Landing page experience facilitating common and consistent user
> experience and mitigating oververbose verbiage sometimes present due
> to articles of greater word count in length. C&R department leveraged
> suggestion effecting display of initial paragraph of latest entry in each
> category. Idea has meritorious qualities and is met here with approval
> verbiage, and it is advisable to effect alteration.
> • Organization of entry index in line with alphanumeric standard
> (ascending). Have already assessed impactfulness of organization with
> author-initiated sorting. This can be seen as effective, but is not a
> software-integrated solution.
> • Our department would like to engage in educational opportunity
> whereby increased knowledge of operation of WordPress is leveraged.
> • Please ensure your department impacts the contribution of content.
> Thank you. I will be out of the office immediately after sending this
> email. This message may be short and poorly composed because it was
> sent from my mobile device and I don’t give a damn.


DELTA: “1. the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet (Δ, δ); 2. the consonant sound represented by this letter; 3. the fourth in a series of items; 4. anything triangular, like the Greek capital delta (Δ); (Mathematics) an incremental change in a variable, as Δ or δ; (Geographic) a nearly flat plain of alluvial deposit between diverging branches of the mouth of a river, often, though not necessarily, triangular: the Nile delta; (Financial) The ratio comparing the change in the price of the underlying asset to the corresponding change in the price of a derivative” —entries from

I spend a lot of time on my computer, and here’s why: I’m a fraud. I have no business being a strategic marketing consultant for Fortune 500 corporations. I don’t have an MBA or even a BBA. As a matter of fact, I have a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts). I can explain chiaroscuro and color theory in detail, but when everyone else at the table starts bantering about ERPs, “drill-downs” and “straw-man propositions,” I’m an idiot. Fortunately, there’s wireless internet and Wikipedia. I look like I’m busily typing memos, but in reality I’m frantically translating jargon just to keep up.

I’m not the only fraud in the room. Amidst all the buzzwords and needless acronyms being flung about like monkey poo, there are also lexicides — words used wrongly! I’ve started chronicling these as they happen, and today, I heard — for the second time — delta carelessly slaughtered.

About two weeks ago, my team conferenced with a client who embraced verbiage. Within his barrage of DVTs, PPORs and USPs (don’t look them up — they are all acronyms specific to his company, and he did not stop to explain them to us or use commonly understood terms), came delta: “We have 660 employees in this program, plus 200 in the other, which is a really big delta.” I paused, gears whirring. I knew delta referred to an amount of change, but my client did not refer to change. I dove onto the ‘net and came up snake eyes. I found no source using delta as a synonym for “number” or “sum.” I must have misheard.

Then today, the same client did it again: “The program rolls out to 350 managers, which is a smaller delta point than originally anticipated.” Delta point? After 30 seconds of furious Googling, here’s what I got:

In biometrics and fingerprint scanning, the delta point is a pattern of a fingerprint that resembles the Greek letter delta.

I kept at it. Finally, I realized the awful truth — my client was full of it. He really did use delta and the even haughtier delta point as pretentious stand-ins for “number.”

Because my wife so vigorously defended the abomination of lexicide in the past, I recounted this new development to her. “But delta means something very specific!” the former CPA protested. “Hey,” I replied, “you said it. If someone wants to misuse a word, he can and we should call it ice cream.” “But this is not what I meant!” It was satisfying to see her indignation. I shrugged and served myself some mashed potatoes, which were getting cold. “What can we do? Now may I please have a larger delta of gravy?”

Otto E. Mezzo

References: Delta point according to Webopedia (