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Incidences / incidents

(6 Posts)
Pennies Tue 14-Jun-11 10:11:34

On the news yesterday there was this guest who just kept saying "incidences" when describing the frequency of an event (e.g. there were 15 incidences of teenage stabbings in London in the first 6 months of 2010). Surely she should be saying incidents. Does incidences exist as a word and if so what is it's correct use?

Teachermumof3 Tue 14-Jun-11 19:51:15

I agree with you. Incident is a count noun and the plural form of "incident" is "incidents."

The word "incidence" means "frequency"-so the incidence of stabbings might rise, but that would mean there were more stabbbing incidents!

Incidences should not be used like this.

Pennies Tue 14-Jun-11 20:41:15

Ha! I thought as much. I was therefore right to be riled. <needs to get out more perhaps...?>

streakybacon Wed 15-Jun-11 07:10:22

Perhaps it's being confused with 'instances', which would work.

Bucharest Wed 15-Jun-11 07:39:05

I think the person on the TV was correct.

Incident= one happening/event
Incidence= the frequency of something.

The person was talking about the frequency of stabbing incidents(so could have said "the incidence of (stabbing) incidents is......" grin

The only query I would have over it, is that we usually find incidence in the singular(which, had she used it would have the same meaning as what she said anyway...."the incidence of stabbings....")

So she was using it correctly, but I think she thought she was meaning incidents (IYSWIM! grin)

prism Wed 15-Jun-11 20:34:13

She wasn't using it correctly. I we all agree that "incidence" means "frequency", try putting that into what the speaker said, viz; "there were 15 frequencies of teenage stabbings in London in the first 6 months of 2010". Something you might hear in a maths lesson, but not what was meant in this context, IMHO.

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