February 14, 2013

Weekly Language Usage Tips: regard or regards & jibe and jive

Posted in jibe/jive, regard/regards, regards at 6:03 am by dlseltzer

Question: How do you know it’s time for vacation?

Answer: When you find yourself editing someone’s pink sheets—not the investigator’s response to the pink sheets, but the pink sheets themselves.

For you youngsters out there who might not know what pink sheets are. Pink sheets are what we used to call the NIH Summary Statement, the reviewers’ comments on a grant proposal. In the old days, we didn’t get them online; they came by mail, and the paper they were printed on was…you guessed it…pink. Well, I caught myself before I had gone too far, and I stopped editing the reviewers’ comments. But those comments inspired this edition of the wlut.

Tip 1: Regard or regards

Okay. The third time is the charm, right? We talked about this first back in 2008, then again in 2011, and here we are in 2013.

This is what reviewer one wrote:

Racial differences with regards to illness patterns remain unclear.


Need greater establishment of the interaction between social class and race with regards to chronic disease.


Assumes a group design with regards to overall goals of the study, but will use an individual level design


 While there is some cursory acknowledgement that age matters with regards to attitudes, the study uses few developmental theories to guide this discussion.

What bothers me with regard to this reviewer, other than he or she being unduly stern in the critique of this grant proposal, is the reviewer’s use of ‘regards.’ I told you before, and I’ll tell you again, you can’t use ‘regards’ in this manner.

You can give your regards to your colleagues. You can give your regards to your friends. You can even give your regards to old Broadway, but you can’t talk about something being ‘with regards to’ something else. IT’S REGARD, PEOPLE. THERE IS NO ‘S.’

I don’t know why I get so overwrought about this. Everybody has their own pet peeves, I guess, and this is one of mine. The other is when people write ‘principle investigator’ when they mean ‘principal investigator,’ but I’ll save that for another day.

‘Regards’ means good wishes, ‘and ‘regard’ means relation or reference. And the latter meanings are what the reviewer intended. For example:

Racial differences with regard to illness patterns remain unclear.

Racial differences in relation to illness patterns remain unclear.

You could also simplify and improve the writing by using ‘regarding’ or ‘about’ instead.

Remember, regards’ are only for giving, and the word, ‘regards,’ doesn’t belong in any of our scientific writing.

Tip 2: Jibe or jive

I don’t think reviewer two wrote anything to throw me into a frenzy, but I sighed deeply when I read in reviewer three’s critique:

The analytical procedure does not seem to jive with the study design.

We addressed these commonly confused words recently, but after that issue of the wlut went out, I got lots of email saying that many of you had been using these words incorrectly your whole lives, so I thought I would mention it again.

The word the reviewer wanted was ‘jibe’ which means to agree or be in accord.

The analytical procedure does not seem to jibe with the study design.

Here’s a little trivia. There are two other words pronounced like ‘jibe.’ ‘Gybe’ is a nautical term and means cause a sail boat to shift from side-to-side (jibe is an alternate spelling for this nautical term—very confusing). ‘Gibe’ means to jeer or mock (jibe is also an alternative for this term—again, very confusing).

Jive, on the other hand refers to swing or jazz music, and ‘jive’ also means to deceive or mislead. And ‘jibe’ NEVER serves an alternative.

That reasoning jibes with my understanding of the phenomenon.

That reasoning is in agreement with my understanding…

There is not going to be another storm—you’re jiving me.

There is not going to be another storm—you’re lying to me.

And that’s no jive!



  1. Frankie said,

    Interesting to learn new words. In British English “to jibe” means to insult or mock (I’d never seen the alternative spelling “gibe”).

    One of my pet peeves is “Best regards”. It’s probably not wrong, but just seems over the top.

    Best wishes!

  2. Anonymous said,

    I don’t like the way ‘jibe’ is used to refer to agreement while meaning to mock, it seems off even though it sounds pleasing.

  3. Jennifer said,

    When you refer to the reviewers, you should capitalize them; unless you say the first, second, or third.

    You wrote the following.
    “This is what reviewer one wrote:

    I don’t think reviewer two wrote anything to throw me into a frenzy, but I sighed deeply when I read in reviewer three’s critique:”

    When you write them this way, you are using them as names, and thus should capitalize them.

    “This is what Reviewer One, Reviewer Two, and Reviewer Three wrote:…”

    If you were to use their actual names, would you not capitalize them?

    For example, “This is what Jennifer wrote,” versus, “This is what jennifer wrote.”

    • dlseltzer said,

      This comment is completely wrong.

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