There was a really entertaining short story describing customary exchanges of fierce words between a restaurant patron and waitress in New Yorker magazine (June 14.) under the title, “Lunch at Gitlitz’s. However, I was drawn to the word, “battled-hardened nemesis” in the following sentence;

“When we walked into the restaurant, we immediately saw her – my father’s battled-hardened nemesis; a waitress named Irene. She was standing in back by the kitchen, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, one hand on her hip.. She and my father locked eyes like two gunslingers stepping on to a dusty street. “There she blows” my father muttered. “Try not to excite yourself,” my mother said.” New Yorker, June 2014

I find “battle-hardened” in dictionaries at hand, but not “battled-hardened,” which sounds somewhat awkward to me. This word (battled-hardened) is repeated in the lead copy of the article in New Yorker Home page.

The article is really humorous and entertaining, and wordings of the battle scene are really snappy. But, is “battled-hardened” one of New Yorker's renowned idiosyncrasies, or just a typo?

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a typographic error Jun 15, 2014 at 2:01
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    @jwpat. So I tried to make it sure. It's obvious to native speakers, but not certain to non-native speaker, and I think it's better for me to comfirm, not passing by the doubt and question, while embracing them halfway. Thanks for your editing. Jun 15, 2014 at 2:14
  • Besides, there’s difference of the degree of tolerance by nation. We make a lot of typo. But if we try to find out a single typo in major journals in our country, we might need months or a year. Journal's typo becomes news. If any newspaper carries a typo, they will be flooded with letters and e-mails of complaints from readers. We don’t take typo in public document for granted. Typo is a shame for any journals and publishers. Therefore Japanese media embrace a fleet of proof-readers, even if it’s costly. Jun 16, 2014 at 1:08
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    Yoichi Oishi, you've pointed out an interesting difference between the US and Japan in treatment of typos, and I now better understand the reason for your question. Jun 16, 2014 at 15:30
  • @JPat7. You’re appreciated. But I don’t really understand why the question that won 5 up-votes off- setting 2 down votes (as I recall) and 328 views (as of June19) is judged to be off-topic. Every time I see the word, “off topic,” I feel like seeing Chinese Communist party’s recent proclamation,“七不讲”- 7 Don’t Speak, which prohibits to talk about 1.Universal value, 2.Freedom of press report, 3.Citizen’s society, 4.Citizen’s rights, 5.Historical Mistakes of Chinese Communist Party, 6.Existence of Special privilege class, and 7.Freedom of Judicial system, Jun 19, 2014 at 21:25

4 Answers 4


There are lots of cases where the first piece is an adjective (even a participle) or an adverb instead of a noun, but battle-hardened is not one of those. Therefore it really must be a typo, because it means hardened by battle.

Most of the compounds where the second piece is a past participle and the first piece a noun work that way. For example:

air-cooled, belt-driven, carbon-dated, deer-proofed, feather-topped, hand-sewn, gas-powered, iron-plated, jet-propelled, knife-edged, love-begotten, market-tested, need-rooted, oil-tempered, punch-drunk, quarter-sawed, rain-proofed, store-boughten, tailor-made, user-oriented, vacuum-packed, wind-swept, X-linked, yeast-bitten, and zero-padded.

Those all mean “verbed by/with/for (the/a) noun”.

There are also many versions where the first part is a noun but the second part is now a present participle instead of a past participle. These mean “verbing (the/a) noun”. For example:

air-breathing, body-snatching, class-leading, death-defying, deep-searching, earth-moving, fact-finding, gas-guzzling, hair-splitting, iron-binding, jaw-breaking, key-winding, king-killing, labour-saving, market-leading, night-flowering, orange-fuming, penny-pinching, rabble-rousing, sabre-rattling, thought-provoking, underside-couching, water-bearing, and yuck-making.

However, there are some that admit both versions, like fork-tailed and forked-tailed, so it is not a bad question that you have asked.

There do exist other examples where both halves are in participle form besides just forked-tailed, but these occur at about three orders of magnitude less frequency than the first set. Other examples like that are words such as broken-hearted and cloven-hoofed.

Those work more like big-hearted, deep-rooted, half-baked, etc., because the first word is no longer a noun but a modifier, either an adjective or an adverb.


Appending the text of Janus’s insightful comment so that its text not be lost, and be searchable:

Words like broken-hearted also have in common that the second member of the compound is a noun, rather than a verb, to which has simply been added an adjectival suffix -ed. They’re not real past participles. You can (just about) consider to battle-harden or to wind-sweep a verb, but there is no such verb as to forked-tail or to broken-heart.

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    Words like broken-hearted also have in common that the second member of the compound is a noun, rather than a verb, to which has simply been added an adjectival suffix -ed. They're not real past participles. You can (just about) consider to battle-harden or to wind-sweep a verb, but there is no such verb as to forked-tail or to broken-heart. Jun 15, 2014 at 8:23

"Battled-hardened" is not correct, as others have pointed out.

Sometimes, people make spelling mistakes because they're thinking of two words at once, and what they write is a mixture of the two. Maybe the author of this piece was confused because she or he was thinking of the word embattled, whose meanings include

Subject to or troubled by battles, controversy or debates.


The use of "battled-hardened" is not a typo.


Padyn MacLaren, a battled-hardened knight, returns home to the Highlands after years of fighting the English in France.

Technical manual:

It is not something that was built in a day; instead, it stemmed from the battled-hardened experience of APEX CNS cloud platform division, who left nothing to chance.


The fans, members of Ultras Ahlawy, the well-organized and street battled-hardened militant support group of storied Cairo club Al Ahli SC that played a key role in the popular uprising three years ago...


Hundreds of battled-hardened Liberian fighters are adding to a messy ethnic conflict brewing in western Ivory Coast that security experts warn could spread across the region's porous borders

A sister site (scifi.stackexchange.com):

By that point he would likely have a very battled-hardened personality, as you see in many long-time veteran soldiers. The Ninth Doctor might had some anger issues come out every so often, but he was clearly not "gruff and battle-hardened


On April 17, 1988, the newly-restructured Iraqi Army began a major operation aimed to clear the Iranians out of the peninsula. The Iraqis concentrated well over 100,000 troops from the battled-hardened Republican Guard versus 15,000 second-rate Iranian Basij soldiers. -Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 By Kenneth Michael Pollack (2004)

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    How do you know those examples are not typos as well? Are you supposing that all those writers purposefully wrote the erroneous term battled-hardened in place of the correct term, battle-hardened? -1 Jun 15, 2014 at 13:45
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    @jwpat7 I found over 40 references in published novels. Using your logic alone, what are the odds of dozens of writers, editors, proofreaders, publishers, (not to mention the general public)not catching that 'typo'?
    – Third News
    Jun 15, 2014 at 14:06
  • TN, are you suggesting that it's more likely that those dozens of WEPP(NTMTGP)'s are making the error on purpose, instead of making the error by typographic slips? That seems to be quite a stretch. Regarding what the odds are, they seem to be pretty good, given the number of times the error has occurred. Jun 15, 2014 at 14:13
  • @jwpat7 I agree with @ThirdNews; if over forty published sources include battled-hardened, then it is ipso facto an acceptable term, even if it's origins are non-standard. For example, take a look at all these legitimate words that began as blatant errors.
    – Ted Broda
    Jun 19, 2014 at 19:01
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    @TheodoreBroda, I agree it isn't a standard acronym, but imagined Third News would understand it as an abbreviation of “writers, editors, proofreaders, publishers, (not to mention the general public)”. Afterwards, I decided I should have written WEPPNTMTGP instead of WEPP(NTMTGP). Re the implication that if “over forty published sources include [term] then it is ipso facto an acceptable term”, that's a nonsensical notion and utterly false. Jun 19, 2014 at 19:25

It is an error, no matter where (or how many times) you have found it.

The New Yorker used to be more careful than it is lately.

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