The following is a case in point: a piece of outright ignorance which is pretty shameful for a broadsheet newspaper with liberal and literary pretensions.
"The last paragraphs of the Mail's editorial manage to elide Karl Marx and the 'hammer and sickle' with Ed Miliband's stance"'Elide' is a perfectly good English word, and it does not mean what this idiot thinks. For fun, I searched their website for other uses of 'elide', and at least 95% are equally wrong (and more than one writer is involved in this stupidity). I say 'at least': it could be more, but there are just a couple of instances where you can't be certain what they intend and they might just actually mean what the sentence says. Here are some more, all from the same bunch, all in the last few months.
"The narrative voice can elide with the young narrator..."
"The conversation tend (sic) not to simply be about governmental matters but frequently elide into discussions about ..."
"Grayling manages not only to elide criminality with stupidity, but also ..."
"Different periods elide to consistently potent and surprising effect"
"The rhetoric of public interest tends to become elided with the self-interest of ..."(Hats off to Nicholas Lezard for a rare instance of correct usage.)
The malady is not difficult to diagnose. They are looking for a clever word for 'slide', or 'slide together', and 'elide' is just so tempting ... Pathetic, really. The best they could plead in defence is that they are using it as a kind of shorthand for 'elide the distinction between' - and that's pretty thin.
It's a nice example of its kind but by no means alone; and there's no defence in calling me an inflexible pedant who is unable to accept the evolution of language. Of course language evolves, and words subtly change their nuances over time, there are no end of examples. I might fairly have employed the word 'grotesque' in several of the sentences above, but its use today is quite different to that of 150 years ago.
A current case in point might be 'kudos'. Americans throw kudos around all over the place, clearly under the impression that it is a plural noun, where 'a kudo' is presumably thought to be what we might call a plaudit, or a brownie-point. Of course they are wrong (with a small 'w') about this but it's clear enough what is intended, it's pretty harmless, and a few decades from now it will be the new de facto meaning of the word.
But when clearly based on ignorance, Outright Wrong is Outright Wrong; and it can even be serious. Take 'failsafe'. This is a very important concept in engineering design, with handy metaphorical or analogical uses in other contexts. But it is clear that many idiot writers and broadcasters think it means 'foolproof' or 'impossible to fail'. Young engineers nowadays must presumably be carefully told of the real, rigorous meaning in their training, to ensure they aren't blithely misunderstanding it based on the careless usage they were brought up on.
Well-educated folk that C@W readers are, you will definitely have some favourites of your own, in all these categories: annoying, harmless and dangerous. Care to share them ..?