Browse Definitions :

Do you reap what you sow or what you sew?

Writing for Business

Which is correct?
Microsoft has often been accused of ______ FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to keep customers leery of switching to competitor’s products.
a. sowing
b. sewing


Answer: a.

Explanation:
Sewing is stitching something together, like a tailor sews two pieces of fabric or a doctor sews a nasty cut. Sowing, on the other hand, is planting, as in putting seeds in the ground that you hope will grow. I guess as a culture, we’re increasingly distanced from the agricultural past but I was surprised by how frequently “sew” pops up online when it should be “sow.” In fact, it appears to be much more common in the phrase “you reap what you ____.”

Google poll:

You reap what you sew: 17,100,000

You reap what you sow:  3,200,000

Even allowing for the intentional uses of “sew” as a pun, that’s an awful lot of instances of the wrong use.

Paul Brians includes “reap what you sew” in his Common Errors in English Usage:

When you plant seeds you sow them. Galatians 6:7 says “A man reaps what he sows” (harvests what he plants, gets what he deserves). This agricultural metaphor gets mangled frequently into “you reap what you sew.” At best, you might rip what you sew, but you probably wouldn’t want to tell people about it.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

SearchCompliance

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

  • enterprise document management (EDM)

    Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • unified threat management (UTM)

    Unified threat management (UTM) describes an information security (infosec) system that provides a single point of protection ...

  • physical security

    Physical security is the protection of personnel, hardware, software, networks and data from physical actions and events that ...

  • attack vector

    An attack vector is a path or means by which an attacker or hacker can gain access to a computer or network server in order to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

  • cloud testing

    Cloud testing is the process of using the cloud computing resources of a third-party service provider to test software ...

  • storage virtualization

    Storage virtualization is the pooling of physical storage from multiple storage devices into what appears to be a single storage ...

Close