Wrong Word Wednesday #53

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.

Wrongly / Wrongfully

Two more very similar words meaning something negative, but we use them in slightly different contexts – especially in legal use where the difference is far more obvious.

Wrongly – We tend to use this to mean “mistakenly”, erroneously. If somebody is imprisoned and was actually innocent, then then we say there were wrongly imprisoned. You can be wrongly given a poor exam mark too, but not “wrongfully”.

Wrongfully – Often implies a degree of malice. When we think about wrongful imprisonment, we tend to think of miscarriages of justice where evidence that could acquit was suppressed, or where evidence was fabricated.

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