the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The New Yorker Typo


Now I understand what they mean when a creative artist like a musician or novelist hits his “sophomore slump.” After the terribly exciting Holiday concert, I stepped into a minefield by talking about religion and politics. I immediately went searching for a new post idea that I could put up quickly, sending the last post one notch down (and we all know that no one, except the crackpots, ever reads anything other than the last post!)

As I perused The New Yorker in the bathroom (thank you, Leesa, for getting it for my birthday last year), my next post leaped at me like a horny tiger. On Page 65 of the October 29, 2007 issue was a cartoon with a caption that read “I have my mother’s vindictive nature and my father’s garnisheed wages.” Garnisheed? The New Yorker made a typo! They wrote “garnisheed” rather than “garnished!” The New Yorker, cultural icon! And I, Neil Kramer, found a typo. I couldn’t control my laughter. Where were their famous editors? I ran to my computer and wrote a hilarious “letter to the editor” where I basically blackmail them into letting me edit an entire issue dedicated to myself and the “Cult of Citizen of the Month.” While it was a humor piece, I was also half hoping that the New Yorker would Google themselves, discover what I found, and be so impressed, that they decide to actually dedicate an entire issue to my sexual exploits.

I decided to google “garnisheed” to see if anyone else might have spotted the typo before me. Instead, I discovered something else.

gar·nish·ee (gärn-sh)
A third party who has been notified that money or property in his or her hands but belonging to a defendant has been seized by legal writ.
tr.v. gar·nish·eed, gar·nish·ee·ing, gar·nish·ees
1. To seize by garnishment: garnishee a debtor’s wages.
2. To serve with a garnishment: garnishee an employer.

WTF?! Garnisheed is an actual WORD?!

That’s it. I’m not blogging any more until this sophomore slump ends.


  1. teahouseblossom are too funny. I can’t stop laughing!! Haw!!!!!

    Garnishee. Is that like a banshee?

  2. Rattling the Kettle

    That’s bullshit. Garnishee is a noun, not a verb, I don’t care what your crazy online dictionary says.

    I should know, I’m a lawyer.

    Sure, I don’t do any work that has anything to do with garnishments, and never learned about garnishment in law school, nor was it a topic on the bar exam, but, still. The voice of authority has spoken.

  3. Nina

    Neil, I think I am starting to love you a little bit.

    Rattling the Kettle, I am sure if I knew you, I would love you, also. But the comma splice is upsetting me, so I am not going to love you until you stop smashing sentences (no matter how short) together with a comma.

    Please stop that. Thank you.

  4. Velvet Verbosity

    What a disappointment. You almost had your moment of glory!

    You could always join me in the “Drop and Give Me 100” 100 word challenge.

  5. Sophia

    Rattling The Kettle is right – it’s total nonsense, as I told you before you did the Mea Culpa here, Neilochka. There is no such verb, dictionary notwithstanding. Wages are garnished, not garnisheed. It’s like saying that the payee has been payeed and the honoree was honoreed.

  6. V-Grrrl

    Oh, word nerds are lovely, aren’t they?

  7. Noel

    You’re a disgrace to all Ivy League English majors, NK, and I know whereof I speak. And Sophia’s insistence that there are such things as “garnished wages” conjures lovely images of freshly-cut checks with parsley on the side and red radishes on the corners.

  8. Edgy Mama

    Damn the New Yorker!

  9. psychomom

    I think the blond was just trying to impress her friends by speaking French.

  10. Jennifer

    Damn, I hate it when you know you’re right and then find out you’re actually wrong and those OH SO Superior New Yorker editors were right all along. Commie Bastards!!

  11. Brian

    Noel, Sophia is right on the money here. Here is a little primer for you:

  12. psychotoddler

    Garnisheed is definitely a word! It refers to the act of turning someone into a garnishee.


    “We’re going to honor you at the banquet.”

    “But I don’t want to be an honoree!”

    “Tough luck. You’ve been honoreed.”

  13. Bre

    Doesn’t it just fill you with smarty-pants joy when you “beat” the editors?

  14. gorillabuns

    thank you for the english lesson this morning. if i’m ever in this situation, i will now know when to use this word correctly.

  15. Jennifer


    You should *never* question the verbosity of a New Yorker editor. They know stuff.

  16. Neil

    Found this on a British site:

    4. Feedback: Garnish versus garnishee
    An item in the Sic! section two weeks ago puzzled many readers from North America, since they know – and some regularly use – the legal verb “garnish” in the sense of seizing money, especially a part of a person’s salary, to settle a debt or claim. Jacklin Vanmechelen said “garnishing wages is often done in the USA – it’s removing some of the green stuff, not adding it.” However, I knew it only as “garnishee”, a common UK form, which is why I included the item, in the belief that “garnish” was an error. I have since learned that “garnish” appears without comment in many US dictionaries. However, the other form also appears in them and it is easy to find hundreds of examples in recent newspapers (Chicago Sun-Times, 24 September: “He was wary of taking a job outside of his field because he feared his wages would be garnisheed.”)

    Opinions on it in resulting correspondence have been extreme. Jean Rossner said: “Alas, this seems to be standard US usage these days. In my days as proofreader and editor, I stopped counting the number of times that I corrected it to ‘garnisheed’ and the editor changed it back again, or the printer just ignored me.” On the other hand, Koven Vance said, “I hope that your correspondent wasn’t thinking that the correct form of the word was the grotesque and debased ‘garnisheed.'”

    “Garnish” is in fact the older form, with the meaning “to serve notice on a person, for the purpose of attaching money belonging to a debtor”. (The word is Middle English, in the sense of equipping or arming, from Old French “garnir”, probably of Germanic origin and related to “warn”; the sense of decorating or embellishing came along in the late seventeenth century.) “Garnishee” appeared in the early seventeenth century, reasonably enough as the term for a person whose money has been so attached. The OED’s entry implies that “garnishee” came to be used semi-adjectivally (“garnishee order”, “garnishee summons”, “garnishee proceedings”) so often that around the end of the nineteenth century it turned into the verb and partially replaced “garnish”.

  17. mrsatroxi

    I’m going to curl up in my sock drawer and weep for days.

  18. Whit

    You, Sir, have found yourself in the story of my life. I do that shit all the time.

  19. Dagny

    I read about this alleged typo somewhere else yesterday. I was shocked that the folks at the New Yorker would let something like this slip past. Now after reading your last comment, Neil, I realize that it was not a typo since it makes perfect sense. Hopefully this will help me with my latest obsession — Free Rice. Expand your vocabulary while helping to feed the world…

  20. psychotoddler

    Actually I think the word “garnish” in this application comes from the Yiddish word “gornisht”, which means “nothing.”


    “The judge tells me he’s going to take the settlement out of my salary.”

    “Gee, that’s too bad.”

    “Yeah, so basically now I’m going to make gornisht wages.”

  21. Finn

    Should we write the New Yorker and let them know they’re in America now?

    I am completely confused as to which is correct…

  22. dave

    Click my name to see how desperate I was to create blog material.

  23. Brian

    Neil, it’s admirable of you to cover all bases, but I spend most of my time in court and in the US the verb to use is “garnish,” not “garnishee,” so the New Yorker can kiss my American derriere.

  24. Elisabeth

    The New Yorker has cartoons?

  25. 180/360

    Those bloody Brits! They are always fouling things up. 🙂 I’m constantly hearing Origahno, Aloominyum, and Tacko from my husband- but garnisheed? I can’t wait to ask my mother in-law!

  26. 180/360

    So I asked her and she’s never heard the word garnisheed before. And she’s a crossword pro.

  27. Neil

    180/360 — Really? Since I’m in NY already, I’m marching over to the New Yorker offices tomorrow and demanding my prize! Watch CNN tomorrow at noon for the press conference.

  28. Carolyn

    If it makes you feel any better, I once found a real New Yorker typo:
    They do exist!

  29. Late to the discussion

    About 20 years ago I did some legal work in Virginia and was astonished to hear the people there use the term “garnishee” as a verb. It crawled all over me to hear, “His wages will be garnisheed” but everybody did it.

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