QUASH, not Squash

What a difference an s makes. The sound-alikes quash and squash differ in meaning but almost qualify as kissing cousins. Why? Because both are tinged with the suggestion of rendering something operative, inactive, or useless. They go their separate ways when it comes to the intangible vs. the tangible. Quash is applied to the nonphysical (e.g., court decisions, uprisings), while only something  physical can be squashed (a tomato, a pillow, a big toe).

See the difference for yourself:

quash  1. to surpress or extinguish; 1. to nullify judicially; 3. to void

squash 1. to smash into a flat mass; to flatten or make flatter

Quash predates squash by about a century (mid-1600s vs. mid-1700s), but most Americans impart three meanings to the latter: in its noun form, a gourd vegetable; as a verb, an all-purpose “smash,” whether the smashee is a grape or a revolt. Unless more writers and speakers learn how to separate these two sound-alikes, quash may fall out of use by the end of this century.

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