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Libya: Kadafi's other foe -- copy editors


When it comes to name-calling, Libya's longtime strongman, Moammar Kadafi, is a master.

In his speech Tuesday to his troubled countrymen, he referred to anti-government protesters as "greasy rats," "drug-fueled mice" and "gangs of cockroaches."

However, when it comes to Kadafi's own name, well, let the name-calling really begin.

In fact, the only groups that may cheer louder than his own people when the dictator falls are the world's journalists -- or, more specifically, copy editors.

Just a quick check of the major newspapers shows you what the sharp-eyed folks with the green eyeshades (OK, the eyeshades are gone, alas) are up against.

At the New York Times, he is Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. 

At the Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press news service, he's Moammar Gadhafi.   

Reuters prefers Muammar Gaddafi.

But the L.A. Times goes with Moammar Kadafi. 

And online, Wikipedia uses Muammar al-Gaddafi.

And, of course, you can mix and match first and last names, such as Moammar Gaddafi. Go ahead. But whatever you come up with, be assured that thousands of harried reporters have beaten you to it.

This being the Internet Age, what says our electronic Big Brother, Google?

In order, it's Wikipedia in a landslide!

1/ Muammar al-Gaddafi  1.05 million hits

2/ Moammar Gadhafi   175,000 hits

3/ Muammar el-Qaddafi   57,900 hits

4/ Moammar Kadafi  9,340 hits

So, so long, Col. Muammar Muammar Moammar el-Qaddafi el-Qaddafi al-Gaddafi Gadhafi  Kadafi. And good riddance.

-- Paul Whitefield


Comments () | Archives (8)

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Rasha Sarhan


Rasha Sarhan



My vote's with the Los Angeles Times' spelling, despite the lower Google ranking. I have my reasons, chief among them that "Moammar El-Gadhafi" is the English spelling offered in 1986 by strongman Moammar Kadafi, a notorious liar and lounge lizard.

Mitchell Young

You gotta admit, he had a pretty good run. At least the country won't fall into the hands of that weasel son of his. Prediction: the son will turn up managing a Cricket mobile phone shop in Sherman Oaks. That's how crazy our immigration policy is.

Don't forget the Y

Don't forget ending his last name with "Y" like the New York Post.


The Library of Congress has collected over 30 spellings of his name, according to a letter from a LOC librarian published years ago in The Straight Dope.


ecause of the lack of standardization of transliterating written- and regionally-pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi's name has been transliterated in many different ways into English and other Latin alphabet languages. Even though the Arabic spelling of a word does not change, the pronunciation may vary in different varieties of Arabic, which may cause a different romanization.


al-Gaddafi, 29 800 000 résultats
Gaddafi, 126 000 000 résultats
Gadhafi, 79 300 000 résultats
el-Qaddafi 1 250 000 résultats
Kadafi, 1 690 000 résultats



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