“have sought fit”

Ken writes:

I was browsing the New Zealand Herald today and came across this report of a possible sighting of Madeleine McCann. That story is so horrible. Along with the Jamie Bulger case, it’s one of my recurring parental ‘nightmares’ and I use it to frighten myself into increased alertness and vigilance. But let that be; that’s not really why I’m posting. The article includes the phrase ‘have sought fit’, which caught my attention. I’m sure they mean, ‘have seen fit’ or ‘saw fit’, but evidentally, it is not a unique mistake. Google reveals about 6920 hits for the phrase (as compared with 4,060,000 for ‘have seen fit’ and 4,130,000 for ‘saw fit’). Is it just a spelling mistake or might people have learned it that way?

Incidentally, ‘thought fit to’ has 1,020,000 and ‘seek fit to’ has about 8530 hits, including some pages definitely fitting ‘see fit to’
e.g., and e.g, and e.g. ‘Seeked fit to’ gets a measly 2 hits.

Perhaps the incidence of ‘sought fit to’ can be attributed to tripping over the tongue and merging ‘saw fit’ and ‘thought fit’. On the other hand, the fact that people actually also ‘seek fit to’ suggests that that is the initial error and saying ‘sought fit to’ is just a matter of consistency.

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9 thoughts on ““have sought fit”

  1. mairij

    Intriguing! I think you are right that they probably meant ‘have seen fit’, but I also think that ‘to seek fit’ or ‘seeking fit’ are acceptable phrases, meaning to search for the appropriate fit or relationship as opposed to perceiving or becoming aware of an acceptable fit.

  2. Murray

    I believe that Google now tailors its search results to what it knows about you, which is a drawback for this kind of research. I wonder if there is any way to switch this adaptation off?

    1. ken

      Thanks for the link. But I don’t think it’s quite the same construction. That’s ‘sought fit + noun’, whereas the construction that I was originally interested in was ‘sought fit + to verb’. There’s nothing anomalous sounding about ‘sought fit words,’ to my ear at any rate.

  3. Katimum

    Personally I think the writer simply got muddled between ‘thought fit to’, and ‘seen fit to’ – ‘sought’ being in this case a portmanteau word combining the two expressions!

  4. Arm Onion

    I agree with Ken’s suggestion that “sought fit to” results from a confused tongue trip. In any case, the situation has been further muddied by no less a light than U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. In his dissenting opinion in the recent tax case of United States v. Home Concrete & Supply, he writes that “Congress sought fit to make clear that errors in these kinds of calculations would not extend the limitations period.” One would think that at least one of the Justice’s bright young law clerks would have caught the error.

    1. kenanddot

      Thanks for adding that. Yeah it’s a bit of a shame. But I don’t think you can seriously expect the younger generation to pick up on linguistic errors though, do you?

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