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This article "Paying Taxes on Technical Debt" on thedailywtf.com has an example of this "humorous" strikethrough that is prevalent on the internet:

Just to make it needlessly complicated interesting, in many cases, the numbers need to be transformed via some formula before copying, and the formulas vary from form to form, and from state to state.

The author strikes off what they really think, and then write what is more acceptable to show off how smart they are add humour. Is there a term to describe this kind of strikethrough?

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    You know you're old^H^H^H have a lot of experience when you use ^H instead of <s>strike through</s> That Wikipedia link describes it as epanorthosis, or a substitution of a more emphatic word or phrase for one just preceding (as in “Most brave, nay, most heroic act!”). – ColleenV Aug 30 '17 at 20:20
  • @ColleenV That seems to be the closest "term", if there is such a thing. You might choose to post that as an answer. – Masked Man Aug 31 '17 at 10:43
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    I intend to when I have time to write a proper one unless someone beats me to it. I'm not familiar with that term and want to do some more research. – ColleenV Aug 31 '17 at 11:59
  • @ColleenV The definition of epanorthosis is in fact the reverse of what's happening with these strike-throughs. If you notice, strike-throughs occur before the substituted word/phrase; an epanorthosis occurs after. This distinction is important, and differentiates the two, because of the perspective that the reader must adopt when contrasting the two phrases, as I touched upon within my response when using the hash tag example. – Charles Aug 31 '17 at 15:08
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    in Rhetoric, A View of its principal tropes and fingures.... [1767], Thomas Gibbons defined epanorthosis as "a figure whereby we retract or recal what we have [spoken] or [resolved.]" His examples are a little wordier than the simple strikethrough/replace, but they include some where the second statement dials back the intensity of the first. books.google.com/… – Adam Aug 31 '17 at 16:22
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Is there a term to describe this kind of strikethrough?

No, I don't believe there is.. it's simply referred to as a revision, edit, strike-through, or retraction.

And yes, this is seen everywhere on the Internet today. IMO, this usage of a strike-through is somewhat analogous to how people use hash tags, but with the scope of the expression being much more immediate; a kind of way to comment on a statement while it's being made, whereas hash tags comment after the fact.

That being said, strikethroughs occur before the associated word/phrase, instead of after, which is in contrast to an epanorthosis (mentioned in a comment). The two have a similar effect on the reader, however, a strike-through is an independently existing comment pertaining to what's next to be said, and is presented in the form of an explicit retraction. An epanorthosis, however, is dependent upon the most previous statement, and, serves to refocus/correct/enhance what had just been stated.


A post has been made here regarding the differences between a strikethrough and an epanorthosis.


An answer has been provided for that post, in which the potentiality of any differences in use between strikethroughs and epanorthoses is brought into question, and the general consensus is that the two should not be regarded as the same, and that they have fundamental differences in usage.

Given this, I reinforce my response to the OP.

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    Even back in Usenet days, you would see things like "I really hate^H^H^H^H leave it to others to enjoy <the other guy's favorite band>". Because ^H was something that might get displayed if you hit backspace when your terminal settings weren't right. – The Photon Aug 30 '17 at 20:05
  • So how are you distinguishing the strikethrough device from the second example of epanorthosis on the wikipedia page you linked to? ("Sigmund Fraud - Freud, I mean") Is it as simple as whether the typesetter actually put a line through the word? Seems close to a distinction without a difference. – Adam Aug 31 '17 at 16:42
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    The Wikipedia link for epanorthosis in your answer says 'The words in italics are technically the epanorthoses, but all the words following the dash may be considered part of the epanorthosis as well. Striking through words is another way of demonstrating such an effect.' Maybe you could clarify that? – ColleenV Aug 31 '17 at 16:50
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    The etymology from Merriam-Webster seems to support the idea of a correction instead of precedence: 'Late Latin, from Greek epanorthōsis correction, revision, from epanorthoun to correct, revise (from ep- + anorthoun to restore, correct, from ana- + orthoun to straighten, from orthos straight, right' – ColleenV Aug 31 '17 at 16:54

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