Is bad usage infectious?

The answer is no, but it sure seems that way.

The flu is certainly infectious, but the writer of this ad meant flue, or the passageway for a chimney.

You can certainly go up a flue, but I haven’t figured out a way to go up a flu, even sarcastically. (Although I did once find a way to turn flu precautions into a rock concert in an airport bathroom.)

Actually, the entire sentence with the flu reference collapses into a verbal pratfall. The first highlighted area is a simple typo. We all make those from time to time.

The second one is pickier on my part. Literally means actually or in a strict sense. We use it for emphasis, as in “Water literally rushed through the streets after the dam broke.”

Can 26 percent of your heating bill literally go up the flue? No. Not unless you rip the bill into pieces first. In this case, the writer had a strong point to make. There was no reason to go overboard.

A coda: Whenever I hear flu or flue or flew more than once, I can’t help but think of Wilco’s “Kingpin”: “I caught the flu and away I flew.” Here it is, in a chilly performance that has the look of another era.

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