The extinguished bus … being precise with meaning

In everyday conversation, we’re often not very precise with our words. Most of the time, people understand our intention and our meaning is conveyed. Usually, we don’t even notice misplaced meanings because we’re focusing on the intention and the overall content, rather than specific words and links within sentences.

But sometimes I hear something that makes me giggle. Like a radio news report that I heard this morning. The journalist announced:

“Firefighters have extinguished a burning bus on the M1 at Helensvale.”

Now, Harry Potter may be able to extinguish a bus, but I don’t think that firefighters can. I was left with a lovely vision of a bus disappearing with a puff of purple smoke and a few sparks.  In the real world, it’s probably better to extinguish fires than to extinguish buses.