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April 19, 2015


Beware of hot Pop-Tarts…and the Word Police

by Gradmama2011

There is something that bothers me, and I have been meaning to throw the question out to see if anyone knows or cares about the answer.

Here it is, the question– how and when was the word “ensure” imposed upon us as the preferred (if not required) usage in instruction booklets and manuals for all manner of appliances and handbooks?

Buy a new toaster. The manual warns that the user must “ensure” that certain precautions are taken before the toaster is put into active duty. There is a long list of things that must be “ensured,” such as plugging the electrical cord into a properly grounded outlet; the toaster should be operated on a safe fire-proof surface; and the user must refrain from inserting inappropriate objects into the toaster.

The manufacturer is usually very specific about what TO DO and NOT TO DO. Never put water into the toaster. Do not operate the appliance when in the bathtub. Do not put butter or jelly on slices of bread before toasting them
In case the bread gets stuck, do not try to pry it loose with a table knife or fork. Don’t allow children to play with the toaster.

My favorite all-time direction deals with the toasting of Pop-Tarts, which is, incidentally, one of my favorite foods. I make no apology. The instructional gem of logic and perfect cover-their-ass precautionary caveats
Is as follows:

“DO NOT toast toaster pastries in this toaster. But IF YOU MUST–ensure that the pastry is not cracked or broken. If it is difficult to remove from the toaster, turn it upside down and carefully slide it out. If necessary, allow the Pop-Tart to cool thoroughly before trying to remove it.”

To return to my original question, I really would like to know how the Word Police managed to spread the apparently mandatory ENSURE word, instead of the old wording such as: “make sure,” or “be sure,” or even “assure” (although the latter probably isn’t correct.)

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 19 2015

    I often think about these things as well !

  2. Apr 19 2015

    Love it. The last instruction is ensure you have read this!

    • Apr 21 2015

      ha ha…that’s funny. It is kind of scary how words can get changed almost automatically, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. Apr 22 2015

    Pop-tarts? YUM!!!

  4. abyssbrain
    Apr 23 2015

    Since companies wantedto worm their way out against any liability, they may have employed the help of lawyers in writing those manuals. Maybe, that’s why they contained the formal word ensure a lot instead of make sure… 🙂

    • Apr 23 2015

      Quite possible. That would take some doing to spread the “new” approved useage. It is suspicious, but then as one of the big conspiracy theorists…anything can happen.

      • abyssbrain
        Apr 23 2015

        And if didn’t happen, they will make you believe that it happened 🙂

      • Apr 23 2015


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