Do You Change ‘Tack’ or ‘Tact’?

When referring to a change in direction, position or course of action, the correct phrase is change tactics. This concerns the maritime use of nail which refers to the direction of a boat with respect to sail position. This phrase has long been confused as “change”. skillful” but this is not technically correct.

have you changed skillful or nail? If it’s the former, are you really just using a shortened form of tactic? If it’s the latter, is there a problem with your nails that need replacing?

To use this term in a way that most people would consider the correct way you would actually use it nailbut not because you’re referring to the small metal pokey (not the technical definition)—at least not directly.

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We can only … have a point.

Meaning of Tack

sticky There are many possible meanings in the English language, and some are more confusing in relation to maritime matters. ONE nail may refer to “a rope that holds in place the lower forward angle of the course on a sailing ship,” “the direction of a ship with respect to its sails,” or (among many other meanings). other seas) “a change in towing from starboard to port or vice versa.” All of these senses come from the same source as your little fingernail sense nail, although somewhat more recent. We see nail used to indicate the direction of a ship in the early 17th century.

My Lord Generall appointed some of his Shippes to pursue them, who pursued them through the night and the next day, and followed them so closely that they were forced to throw ashore some Ballasts and Stuffes of their them in the night, and to repel the crucified Sailes, and go right before the wind, pulling the lost land in a tactic and changing direction, and so it was not difficult to get out of the battle with— Anon., A Iovrnall of all the Proceedings of the Duke of Buckingham1627

Before the 17th century nail has been used figuratively, “a process or method of action; especially: a marked difference from the previous one.

Now the Court is definitely working on a tactic towards the Italian Coast, and it won’t be long before | before they reached an Anchor in Tyber: for what could have made it clearer and clearer, other than the Kindness, as well as the Tolerance that was shown to the people of that Perswasion?— Anon., The test was set up to protect the safety of His Majesty the Divine, Government, and Protestant Religion against the malicious attempts and treasonous plots of Rome.1679

Towards the end of the 18th century change tactics be found; Our earliest record to date of this combination comes from a treatise on sea battles and was used literally, but within a few decades we found evidence of its use. used figuratively.

Faced with that situation, the division’s ships CDthat we are talking about, will be able to observe the enemy’s moves, to change tactics and arrange themselves in the Battle Order on the opposite chessboard as soon as the enemy ships, after leaving, run over a certain space.— Jacques-Raymond Grenier (translated by Chevalier de Sauseuil), The Art of War at Sea1788

I am still in the land of the living, a monument of divine compassion. It’s now been 60 years since I first embarked on the journey of life, and set sail on turbulent waves. My first voyage, under the pressure of the sail, was just before the wind; nor did I turn a single point, or change a nail, or a sheet of paper, in twenty years.— Methodist Magazine (London, England), November 1810

Confusion with Tact

English speakers and writers are constantly inventive and resourceful, especially in their ability to spoil a word or expression almost immediately after it is established. sticky began to be used figuratively in the early 19th century, in conjunction with words such as change, distinctiveor adoptand before the middle of the century people used skillful for the same purpose.

But finds herself everywhere her countrymen expect, and despairs at gaining knowledge of anything. Are not previously known, she adopted a different tactic.— TR Edmonds, Court and Ladies Magazine (London, England), February 1842

B. Hyam will humbly address all the classes On a topic that is important to all—that is, “Dress!”
Competition run high; and of “guarantee” there are some, which we should not expect the “public” to submit to! That is “empty professor” Ai talkbut not act; Their method is based on a different tactic…— (advt.) Manchester Guardian (Manchester, England), 22 July 1843

The replacement of skillful because nail may be old and popular (no wonder it’s still used today in edited prose), but it’s shunned by manuals and if you’re concerned with the problems then maybe you should use nail when referring to a position or direction that needs to be changed. Of the multitude of usage problems, this is just a minor one, which gives you more reason to pay attention to it: a stickler will be absolutely delighted to notice and call you about the problem. topic, and you shouldn’t give them a chance.

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