Replace the letter "l" in the word apostle with an "at" and you get a word apparently so embarrassing the communications department at Brigham Young University stripped every newspaper kiosk in and around the Provo campus of 18,500 newspapers Monday morning.
The typographical error that sent the department scrambling to recycle 259,000 pages of newsprint was actually an innocent mistake on the part of a student editor under deadline pressure, said Rich Evans, editorial manager of the university's newspaper, The Daily Universe.
"Her intentions were good," Evans said. "It was an honest mistake and one that two other people should have caught, too."
In referring to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apostleship in a front-page photo, the caption read, "Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates and other general authorities raise their hands in a sustaining vote…"
By Monday afternoon students had pulled the tainted edition and refilled newsstands with corrected versions.
"This shows the deep concern we have on the matter," Brad Rawlins, chairman of the Department of Communications, was quoted in an online Daily Universe article. "We don't think this error is glib or cute or humorous."
The university publication also apologized to church apostles in a statement on its Web site.
After a day of student interviews and reviewing audit trails, Evans said he believes the gaffe ironically occurred during a spell check. The Daily Universe was using Adobe software called InDesign, which, when it found the word apostle misspelled as "apsotale," suggested "apostate" at the top of its correction list.
"She quickly clicked on the first (suggestion) and moved on," Evans said. "A real unfortunate mistake."
The Deseret News, which also uses the InDesign software, replicated the misspelling and found that Adobe's software does suggest apostate before apostle; Microsoft Word offers it in reverse order.
The original April 6 version, which became a rare one by 11 a.m. the same day, has not yet cropped up on eBay with other rare news editions.
No matter how the hallowed word was mistakenly replaced with its rogue opposite, Evans said the typo won't hang on his well-known office wall of errors where other newspaper mistakes go to live in infamy. "Nope, not this one. There's no humor in it, just a sad set of circumstances."