Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day (prettygoodword) wrote in 1word1day,
Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day
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Thursday word: verbicide

verbicide (VERB-i-sayed) - n., the willful misuse of a word; someone who does so.


So the figurative murder of a word, or a literary one, rather than a literal one. Mind you, I don't know how one could literally murder a word, though the thought of tossing a few corporate buzzwords (did you know that "paradigm" is back again?) off a tall parking structure does have its appeal -- and the image of their shattered letters scattered over the pavement is visually appealing. But I digress. Is an Americanism from the 1850s, generally intended as humorous or at least satirical, apparently coined from Latin roots (verb = word + -cide = killing) by Oliver Wendell Holmes while criticizing the poetic ability of Ralph Waldo Emerson, noting that he makes
"feeble" rhyme with "people," "abroad" with "Lord," and contemplate the following couplet which one cannot make rhyme without actual verbicide:--

"Where feeds the moose, and walks the surly bear,
And up the tall mast runs the woodpeck"-are!

Of course, that's not a mangling of the meaning but pronunciation, but apparently the sense shifted -- which means that the general public committed verbicide on "verbicide."

---L.
Tags: latin, noun, v, verb
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