Over and over - and under
It's happened again. This time the topic was Saddam Hussein, and a well-known pundit wrote: "the significance of the capture is impossible to underestimate."
Surely he meant impossible to "overestimate."
Put these two terms into an Internet search engine, and who knows the difference these days?
They were distinct when the world woke up to the line, "Never underestimate the power of a woman." Think of the retro uproar if "overestimate" were used.
Does another writer really mean: "it is impossible to underestimate the impact of a kind word"?
Or "It is almost impossible to underestimate the importance of rugby to the South African nation"?
On the other hand, who would disagree with: "It is impossible to overestimate the importance of a team approach"?
Or, as the Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign website says, "It is impossible to overestimate the importance of your role in this election!"
I may be overestimating your tolerance for such hair-splitting when language impairment is no news.
But I refuse to underestimate your ability to detect the hair in the soup.