Elementary particle physics is gradually implemented into science curricula at the high school level. However, common presentations on educational, semi-technical or popular level contain or support severe misconceptions. We discuss in particular the notion of 'particle', the interaction between them and the use of Feynman diagrams. In many cases the true novelty of particle physics (i.e. quantum field theory) is largely ignored. We also suggest reasons for this widespread distortions of particle physics in popular accounts.