ElGordillo
Thursday, June 06, 2002
 

One of the things I like about Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus in NRO is his little rants against incorrect usage of words. I know a lot of people think that this is merely pedantry, but it's not. It is a truism that there is no such thing as a synonym. If there are two words that, superficially, describe the same thing, then their difference encodes a subtle variation in exact meaning. That, however, is not the point. What I object to is when two different words are used interchangeably, which has the effect of erasing precisely the difference in meaning between them that gives them their raison d'etre. Herewith, a selection of some of my least favourite catachrestic usages:


I reserve my greatest distaste for the following two gems, however:


Phew. That feels better. But seriously folks, the reason there's two words in the first place should be a subtle hint: they mean different things.


 


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