Which Word Wednesday: Filly vs. Philly

By May 1, 2013 language No Comments

I’d like to dedicate this week’s Which Word Wednesday to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

Those of you who know me know that my heart doesn’t beat for horses—I have a now-hilarious horseback riding experience that sealed it. (Let’s just say I’m not a fan of crabby horses or saddle bruises.)

But my heart did skip to a happy beat when my running-buddy and writing-friend Becky shared an article about the Derby from our local paper with the following description of one of the horses entered in the race and owned by a guy named Charlie Pigg:

“Pigg has had partnership interests in numerous Dogwood horses ever since. He also has owned two by himself, including 3-year-old Cora Mesa, a Philly who will run Friday prior to the Kentucky Oaks.”


This is a filly.

Did you catch it? Pigg owns a 3-year-old horse named Cora Mesa, “a Philly who will run Friday.” A Philly—as in, from Philadelphia. Perhaps the horse was born there? My guess is this is a case of word confusion between filly and Philly. Let’s look to the New Oxford American Dictionary for our definitions:

filly :: noun
a young female horse, esp. one less than four years old

Philly :: noun


This is Philly.

What else can I say? One word is a horse, the other is a city. Unless the filly was from Philly, I think we’ve got a little word error on our hands. Or perhaps that’s something special within Horsedom? Maybe my horse-expert friends can shed some light on that possibility.

What’s my WWW verdict? Language blunders make my day. (Even more so when it’s not one of my own.)

What’s your verdict? Do you know a filly from a Philly? Do language blunders make you smile? Do share in the comments.


Check out previous Which Word Wednesday verdicts here.

Make your mission irresistible to donors. Schedule a 15-minute Change Chat today.