whence

Okay, so this one stems from a bugbear of mine (I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I have one or two of these. By which I mean hundreds). If you’ve ever watched a fantasy film or TV show, you’ve probably heard a Gandalf-esque character yell something about sending some monster back ‘from whence it came’. But ‘whence’ actually means ‘from which’ or ‘from where’ – so they’re saying they’re going to send said monster back ‘from from where it came’. Which is just stupid.

Even bloody Elrond in Lord of the Rings gets it wrong at the unimaginatively named Council of Elrond – ‘[The ring] must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came’. For shame Elrond. It’s the olde-worlde equivalent of saying ‘pin number’.