Geode Editorial Services

I Have a Craven | June 8, 2007

This morning I read a column in the New York Post in which Steve Dunleavy huffed and puffed about how Paris Hilton was released from jail after serving only five days of her sentence. [Aside: She’s since been dragged, literally kicking and screaming, back to the slammer. Woo!] I barely skimmed the piece, but my attention sharpened when I reached the concluding sentence:

So why would we expect anything from La La Land, which long ago replaced God with craven images – celebrities like Paris Hilton.

Ignore for the moment the fact that the question ends with a period. My first reaction was “What a doofus! It’s graven, not craven!” But then I wondered–was he actually making a very subtle play on the words? Per Webster’s, craven means “contemptibly faint-hearted.” One could certainly describe Miss Hilton that way. So tell me, smarty-pants readers, am I being too literal-minded, or am I giving Mr. Dunleavy and the Post too much credit for cleverness?


Posted in Word Use


  1. My first impression was that it’s a pun. At least that’s what I want it to be. And I am the architect of my own reality. So pun it is.

    Comment by willenvelope — June 8, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

  2. Also, it’s not in the eggcorn database, which I would expect if it were a slip. I’m voting pun too.

    Comment by Hillary — June 11, 2007 @ 4:11 pm

  3. i have no opinion regarding the word usage, but i’m glad miss whinie hinie is back in the slammer.

    Comment by bethie — June 11, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  4. It’s a very inept pun, though. I’d imagine his intended meaning was entitled and spoiled, not cowardly. But yeah, I agree that he was trying to be clever.

    Comment by redsquirrel — June 12, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  5. I think it’s fun that his use (or misuse) of a single letter can generate so much speculation.

    Comment by momsquirrel — June 27, 2007 @ 2:51 am

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