Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 14:24:03 PDT


Subject: Re: "Wildly" vs. "Widely"

Today's newspaper had a caption on a photo saying that the "water pressure from

fire hydrants varies wildly." Unless the editor had some sort of pun intended,

I would have expected "widely" to be used.


-- Jim

From Vicki:

To me, "varies wildly" implies that the variation isn't deliberate

or under human control, and probably that it's not predictable.

"Varies widely" would imply a more controlled or predictable process.

If the story (or caption) is trying to draw attention to a

possibly dangerous situation, "varies wildly" makes sense.

More detail on the story might support Vicki's choice of wildly. Currently the

fire department is color coding the tops of fire hydrants based on their water

pressure. Somehow this will assist them in selecting a hydrant. Apparently

they can't standardize the water pressures from each, so they choose painting.

So per Vicki, the colors of the fire hydrants "varies widely", whereas their

water pressures "varies wildly"?

-- Jim