Tact vs. Tack

The noun “tact” refers to the skills of diplomacy and sensitivity when speaking to others in order to maintain good personal relations or avoid offense.
After scribbling red ink all over her report, her boss used considerable tact when informing her she needed to make a few
changes before sending it to management.

I’ve seen some people try to use this word after “new” or “different” to mean a change.
Bad Example:
The environmentalists have taken a new tact in the fracking war in upstate New York.

The word “tact” here should be “tack,” which means changing the course or direction of a sailboat in a zigzag manner by moving the sail to the other side in order to sail into the wind. In the case of the environmentalists, they changed their policy or attitude abruptly in order to move forward toward their goals.

Sometimes you may have to change tack in order to be tactful, especially when correcting some landlubber who used the word


Funny Typo of the Day:
There was a significant temperature difference between the hell and the toe of the horizontal well.

Should have been “heel” not “hell” — hee-hee!


One Response to “Tact vs. Tack”

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    Tact vs. Tack | Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch

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