M

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McDonald's
hamburgers

McJob
defined by the OED as 'an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects'

madrasa
Islamic school

mafia

magistrates court
no apostrophe

maharajah

mainland
do not use to refer to Great Britain in reports about Northern Ireland

mainmast, mainsail

makeover, makeup
no hyphens

Malaysian names
generally the surname comes first, so Mahathir Mohamad becomes Mr Mahathir on second ref. Chinese Malaysian names, like Singaporean names, are in three parts: eg Ling Liong Sik (Mr Ling)

Mallorca
not Majorca

mankind
avoid: use humankind or humanity

manoeuvre, manoeuvring

Marks & Spencer
at first mention, then M&S

masterful
imperious

masterly
skilful

Masters
as in 'I was an undergraduate at Bolton and completed my postgraduate studies there as well – at masters level. I then went on to complete a PhD'

may or might?
The subtle distinctions between these (and between other so-called modal verbs) are gradually disappearing, but they still matter to many of our readers and can be useful.

may implies that the possibility remains open: 'The Design Studio may have changed the face of the university's campus' (it has been built); might suggests that the possibility remains open no longer: 'The Design Studio might have changed the face of the university's campus' (if only they had built it).

Mecca/ mecca
holy city in Saudi Arabia not as in 'Blackpool is a mecca for gamblers'

media
plural of medium: 'the media are sex-obsessed' etc
but medium spiritualist; plural mediums

medieval
not mediaeval

meet, met
not meet with, met with someone

mega
horrible; do not use

memento
plural mementoes

memorandum
plural memorandums

mental handicap, mentally handicapped, mentally retarded
do not use: say person with learning difficulties

mental health
Take care using language about mental health issues. In addition to such clearly offensive and unacceptable expressions, terms to avoid – because they stereotype and stigmatise – include victim of, suffering from, and afflicted by; 'a person with' is clear, accurate and preferable to 'a person suffering from'. Never use schizophrenic to mean 'in two minds'. And avoid writing 'the mentally ill' - say mentally ill people, mental health patients or people with mental health problems

metres
write metres out in full, to avoid confusion with million (an obvious exception would be in an article about athletics, eg she won the 400m)


metric system
We use the metric system for weights and measures; exceptions are the mile and the pint.

mid
mid-90s, mid-60s, etc

midday

Middle East
middle England

Midlands
east Midlands (but East Midlands airport)
West Midlands

mileage

million
in copy use m for sums of money, units or inanimate objects: £10m, 45m tonnes of coal, 30m doses of vaccine;
but million for people or animals: 1 million people, 23 million rabbits, etc;
use m in headlines

min
contraction of minute/minutes, no full point

minimum
plural minima

ministers

minuscule
not miniscule

mis-selling

mistakable, unmistakable

mistakes
Correct versions of some of our most common mistakes include:
linchpin, not lynchpin

misuse, misused
no hyphen

mother of three
etc, not mother-of-three

motorways
write M1, not M1 motorway

mph
no points

MPs

Mr, Ms, Mrs, Miss

Mrs, Miss or Ms?
We use whichever the woman in question prefers: with most women in public life (Ms Booth, Mrs May, Miss Widdecombe) that preference is well known; if you don't know, try to find out; if that proves impossible, use Ms

Muhammad
Muslims consider Muhammad to be the last of God's prophets, who delivered God's final message. They recognise Moses and Jesus as prophets also.
The above transliteration is our style for the prophet's name and for most Muhammads living in Arab countries, though where someone's preferred spelling is known we respect it, eg Mohamed Al Fayed, Mohamed ElBaradei. The spelling Mohammed (or variants) is considered archaic by most British Muslims today, and disrespectful by many of them

multicultural, multimedia, multimillion
but multi-ethnic

Muslim
not Moslem

MW
megawatts; mW milliwatts



 
 

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