Peeve of the Day

Rather than the Latinate “devastated,” I’d use the good old-fashioned English and say “forwasted.”

“For,” of course, is an intensifier, meaning “entirely” or “completely” (often negatively). You don’t see it much these days outside of “forlorn” (entirely lost), “forsaken” (completely not for the purpose of), and “forbid” (absolutely commanded against).

I’d far rather hear someone say “forbrent” (a good English word) than “incinerated” (used by those Roman guys).

Another great intensifier (not seen much these days outside of nautical use) is “dead.” As in “dead ahead” and “dead slow.” In the 19th c. the street gang the Dead Rabbits were calling themselves the Absolute Fighters (rabbit as in “rabbit punch,” not as in bunny).

Dr. Doyle's Blog

Because it’s the grey tag-end of October, moving into the dreariest part of the year up here in the north country, when the fall colors are all gone but the winter snow-that-sticks hasn’t yet fallen, and this time of year always makes me feel peevish:

Listen to me, O People. Do not use “decimated” to mean “destroyed.” This is not what it means.

“Decimate” in its most literal sense means “to reduce by one-tenth.” It refers to the punishment used in the Roman legions when an entire unit had committed an egregious offense, such as mutiny or desertion. Rather than executing all of them, the offenders would be condemned to draw lots to choose one man out of every ten.  Those so chosen would then be clubbed and/or stoned to death by their unchosen comrades. Modern usage often implies a much higher proportion of casualties than one-tenth, possibly because of…

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