Word of the Day

Thursday, May 16, 2019

whataboutism

[ hwuht-uh-bou-tiz-uhm, wuht‐, hwot‐, wot‐ ]

noun

a conversational tactic in which a person responds to an argument or attack by changing the subject to focus on someone else’s misconduct, implying that all criticism is invalid because no one is completely blameless: Excusing your mistakes with whataboutism is not the same as defending your record.

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What is the origin of whataboutism?

Whataboutism is a transparent formation of the phrase “What about…?” used to form objections in an argument, and the noun suffix –ism. Whataboutism entered English in the second half of the 20th century.

how is whataboutism used?

Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing … rational listeners.

Dan Zak, "Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump," Washington Post, August 18, 2017

The best response to whataboutism has historically been to say that while, yes, other countries have their faults, injustice should not be tolerated anywhere.

Olga Khazan, "The Soviet-Era Strategy That Explains What Russia Is Doing With Snowden," The Atlantic, August 2, 2013
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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

consent

[ kuhn-sent ]

verb

to permit, approve, or agree.

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What is the origin of consent?

In English, the verb sense of consent is recorded considerably earlier than the noun. Consent ultimately derives from the Latin verb consentīre “to share or join in a sensation or feeling, be in unison or harmony.” Consentīre is a compound of the Latin prefix con-, a variant of com– “together, with.” The Latin verb sentīre has many meanings: “to perceive by any of the senses, feel, be aware of, recognize, discern, hold an opinion, think, cast a vote, give a verdict.” The many English derivatives of the Latin verb include assent, consent, resent, sense, sentence, sentient, and sentiment. The verb senses of consent entered English in the 13th century, the noun in the second half of the 14th.

how is consent used?

Before you even put your cookie on my computer, or in my mobile device, you have to make sure I consent to being followed ….

Rayna Stamboliyska, as quoted in "Europe's New Online Privacy Rules Could Protect U.S. Users Too," NPR; All Tech Considered, April 16, 2018

If she consents to assist the experiment, she consents of her own free will ….

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, 1868
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

expatiate

[ ik-spey-shee-eyt ]

verb

to move or wander about intellectually, imaginatively, etc., without restraint.

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What is the origin of expatiate?

The English verb expatiate comes from Latin expatiātus, exspatiātus, past participle of expatiārī, exspatiārī “to move, run, or flow away beyond bounds, spread out,” a compound of the prefix ex– “out of, throughout” and the verb spatiārī “to walk about leisurely, stroll” (and the source of German spazieren “to take a walk, stroll”). Spatiārī is a derivative of the noun spatium “expanse of ground, area, space, racetrack, playing field, act (of a play).” Expatiate entered English in the 16th century.

how is expatiate used?

… at every step of this mental process, sufficient time must be allowed for the imagination to expatiate on the objects before it, till the ideas approximate, as near as possible, to the reality.

"Illustrations of the Omnipotence of the Deity," The Calvinistic Magazine, Vol. 5, July 1831

He was troubled too about his love, though when he allowed his mind to expatiate on the success of the great railway he would venture to hope that on that side his life might perhaps be blessed.

Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now, 1875

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