Is there a word or phrase for when someone corrects another person's statement, which is, in fact, already correct? Sometimes the "correction" can be wrong, or sometimes it can be redundant (as in my example below); I have not made the distinction. If no word (or phrase) exists, should we coin one?

Example: In a discussion here about the title "Doctor," I stated that, when introducing oneself, the title is only properly used by physicians in U.S. culture outside of academic circles. The person "correcting" me listed dentists, surgeons, veterinarians, etc. who may also properly use the title doctor, occupations already covered by the term physician.


I'm not aware of a word for this in general but a specific instance is when you hypercorrect something:


: of, relating to, or characterized by the production of a nonstandard linguistic form or construction on the basis of a false analogy (such as "badly" in "my eyes have gone badly")

An example is people who have been constantly told that the grammatical expression is "you and I" rather than "you and me," even though it actually depends on context. But now, instead of always saying "you and me" and getting it wrong sometimes, people have gone too far the other way and say "you and I" all the time, getting it wrong in the alternate cases.

The problem lies in not understanding the underlying rules and assuming that something should always be applied.

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  • Hypercorrection is an interesting and sometimes amusing practice, usually involving pronouns, as we see in your example. It's overcompensation for grammatical uncertainty resulting in the misapplication of a rule. I see how you associate that with someone who mistakenly thinks they are correcting an error where no error exists. – James McInnis Sep 8 '18 at 17:45

Bloggers at Language Log term such an erroneous correction an "incorrection". Here's an example, which cites, and contains a hyperlink to, a William Safire column:

William Safire closed out 2006 with a column entitled "Incorrections", in which he defines incorrection as "a correction that is itself incorrect".

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I do not know whether there is any (may be on word) verb for that, however following are a few terms that are used especially in Data Science;

  1. True Positive: Something claimed to be true, is in fact true.
  2. True Negative: Something claimed to be true, is in fact false.
  3. False Positive: Something claimed to be false, is in fact false.
  4. False Negative: Something claimed to be false, is in fact True.

Phrase for when someone corrects another person's statement, which is, in fact, already correct would be False Negative because someone believed some statement to be incorrect before correcting it when it was already correct.

P.S. I am a non-native English speaker and learner; what I have provided is just an opinion.

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    I'm using "True Negative" and "False Negative" in the exactly opposite way. A "true something" is always something being what it is claimed to be, and a "false something" is something that is not what it is claimed to be. A "Negative" is something claimed to be false. A "true negative" is something claimed to be false, and is indeed false. A "false negative" is something claimed to be false, but the claim is wrong, so it is indeed true. – gnasher729 Sep 8 '18 at 17:03
  • Thanks gnasher729 for the correction. I mistakenly explained 3 in 4 and vice versa. I have corrected 3 and 4 now. – Zeeshan Ali Sep 8 '18 at 17:18

While the other answers are close, I Hazzard a guess that the word you are looking for is in fact miscorrection?

As in "I am so tired, I was grading my students papers last night, and I miscorrected all of the tests! I used the key for the science test, on the math test! ALL THESE MULTIPLE CHOICE ANSWER SHEETS LOOK THE SAME!!"


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    "Miscorrection" makes, for me, the most sense. Thank you, BritTV. With all due respect to Mr. Safire, there is no need to coin a word when a perfectly serviceable one exists, particularly one with a similar prefix. Also, the "in-" prefix has meanings other than negation and could lead to confusion. A remote possibility exists, I suppose, that upon hearing the word "miscorrection" there are those for whom the image of an unmarried female or mascot for Wite-Out is conjured. – James McInnis Jan 12 '19 at 16:05

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