Stewardess? Can you bring me a clip for my gun?

I just finished Brad Thor’s “The Lions of Lucerne,” which was splendid and thrillery and I recommend it. At the end, Brad thanks the dozens of people who helped him on the book, and names some SEALs and FBI guys who gave him information.

That’s all well and good. And most of the writing rings true. Then I hit this sentence: “Do you have an extra clip of ammunition?”

Okay, maybe the editor missed it. Or maybe the author is like, “don’t care, it doesn’t matter.”

Look, nomenclature is a big deal. If your character is a former navy SEAL, he would never, ever say “clip.” Not in a million years.

And when the author is speaking of events in third person, his narrative should use the correct nomenclature, as well.

I understand if someone unfamiliar with weapons were speaking, they might use “clip” instead of “magazine,” but otherwise it’s wrong usage and while it won’t matter to half the population who reads the book, it makes other people’s teeth itch.

See, I know the author knows better because there are multiple instances where “magazine” is used correctly, in a quote or outside a quote. There are 18 uses of magazine in the book, and of those, about half are referring to a box with a spring that hold ammunition to quickly load it into a semi-automatic weapon of some kind.

As to my title, you would never use the term stewardess in real life unless you wanted to insult or upset a “flight attendant.” (It’s sad that there aren’t stewards and stewardesses around anymore. What’s so offensive about the term, anyway? It comes from a long line of impressive credentials. The steward was the person in charge of an entire estate, and in the early days of flight, you had people who served you food, made your bed, and acted as a steward, so the title was pretty apt. Then boom, in the 1970s, we lose PSA -and- suddenly the title changes to Flight Attendant… who brings me food, blankets, pillows, and does steward-type stuff. But now they’re flight attendants because they’re primarily taking care of safety, such as making sure the door is closed and giving a brief lecture at the beginning of the flight, and checking seat belts… and bringing me food, blankets, pillows, and doing steward stuff.)

So, right, if you were writing a thriller that happened in the 60s, it’d be stewardess for sure. Nowadays, you say that, and someone’s head will explode, for sure.

Right, then. Brad: replace all the instances of clip with magazine. (But carefully. There are some instances of “clip” being used in its correct form, three times out of six.)


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