Under The “Illision” It Wasn’t a Word

Over the past few days, I have been watching the coverage of the terrible Staten Island Ferry crash. The story has been compelling on a number of levels, not the least of which is, I was on this boat August 5th.

Today, the NTSB chairwoman, Ellen Engleman, had a press conference and discussed how the boat had neither changed course nor speed before the “illision.”

I listened a few times, wondering if she meant “collision.”

The NTSB is a scientific organization and its investigators choose their words carefully. So, it was off to the dictionary:


\Il*li”sion\, n. [L. illisio, fr. illidere, illisum, to strike against; pref. il- in + laedere to strike.] The act of dashing or striking against. –Sir T. Browne.

Wow. Excellent choice, even though it’s not in my spell checker.

The dictionary is somewhat up-in-the-air whether collision would be right. The definition leaves open the door of one moving object against an inanimate object, though the preferred definitions have both objects moving:

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