Word of the Day

Friday, July 12, 2019

federalese

[ fed-er-uh-leez, -lees ]

noun

awkward, evasive, or pretentious prose said to characterize the publications and correspondence of U.S. federal bureaus.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of federalese?

Federalese is the youngest of an unlovely trio, dates to 1944, and has the narrowest reference, being restricted to the federal government. The equally ugly bureaucratese also dates to World War II (1942) and is broader in scope, including state and municipal government. The oldest and most comprehensive term, officialese, dates to 1884. In English the suffix -ese forms derivative adjectives and nouns from names of countries, their inhabitants, and their languages (such as Chinese, Faroese, Portuguese, Japanese, and Brooklynese, too). By analogy with this usage, –ese is used jocularly or disparagingly to form words designating the diction of people or institutions accused of writing in a dialect of their own invention (such as journalese, officialese, bureaucratese, and federalese).

how is federalese used?

The C.D. program echoes the 1950s mania for bomb shelters, but the 1982 version incorporates a new idea. In federalese, it’s called “crisis relocation,” and, like bomb shelters, a lot of it is laughable.

Michael Kramer, "The Fate of the Freeze," New York, June 14, 1982

The language used is bureaucratic gobbledygook, jargon, double talk, a form of officialese, federalese and insurancese, and doublespeak.

Jack Weinstein, as quoted in "Gobbledygook," ABA Journal, November 1984
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Thursday, July 11, 2019

peccable

[ pek-uh-buhl ]

adjective

liable to sin or error.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of peccable?

Peccable comes from Old French from the Medieval Latin adjective peccābilis “capable of sin, susceptible to sin,” formed from the Latin verb peccāre “to go wrong, make a mistake, act incorrectly, commit a moral or sexual offense.” Peccable was formed on the model of impeccable, which dates from the first half of the 16th century. Peccable entered English in the early 1600s.

how is peccable used?

In his thought at that sharp moment he blasphemed even against all that had been left of his faith in the peccable Master.

Henry James, The Lesson of the Master, 1888

And Mrs. Hancock delivers Mrs. Malaprop’s peccable usages with impeccable aplomb. Nothing offends this lady so much as having someone cast ”an aspersion upon my parts of speech.”

Walter Goodman, "A Comedy of Manners by Sheridan," New York Times, August 10, 1989
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

eye-minded

[ ahy-mahyn-did ]

adjective

disposed to perceive one's environment in visual terms and to recall sights more vividly than sounds, smells, etc.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of eye-minded?

Eye-minded “tending to perceive one’s environment in visual terms and to recall sights more vividly than sounds or smells” was originally and still is a term used in psychology. Eye-minded has a companion term ear-minded dating from the same year (1888). A third related term motor-minded “tending to perceive one’s environment in terms of mechanical or muscular activity” dates to the end of the 19th century.

how is eye-minded used?

Some persons are “eye-minded.” They particularly enjoy seeing things, and retain visual memories far longer than any other.

Alfred N. Goldsmith, "Electrical Entertainment: A Glimpse Into the Future," New York Times, March 22, 1931

He is a good visualizer, and is eye-minded in every respect.

Joseph Jastrow, "Further Study of Involuntary Movements," The Popular Science Monthly, September 1892

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.