Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: especial; special.

especial; special. Traditionally, “especial” (= distinctive, significant, peculiar) is the opposite of “ordinary” {the press is usually given especial access}. “Special” (= specific, particular) is the opposite of “general” {this community has special concerns}, though increasingly “special” is driving out “especial.” “Especial” is so rarely used in American English today — even in learned journals — that some might term it obsolescent. But it does occasionally appear, most often when modifying a noun whose corresponding adjective would naturally take the adverb “especially.” That is, a writer who might otherwise refer to something that is “especially powerful” would refer to its “especial power” — e.g.: “I found myself wishing the NSO had packed a show-stopper — an American work of especial power and virtuosity.” Tim Page, “NSO Visits the Cradle of Classical,” Wash. Post, 26 Oct. 1997, at G1. The phrase “special power” might have connoted something like a superhuman or otherworldly power — surely not the intended sense. For more information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “Anyone who fails to consult the explanatory notes and the list of abbreviations at the beginning of a dictionary can blame only himself for not being able to read the dictionary well. Unfortunately, many people fail here, as in the case of other books, because they insist upon neglecting the prefatory matter — as if the author were just amusing himself by including it.” Mortimer Adler, “How to Read a Dictionary” (1941), in Words, Words, Words About Dictionaries 53, 62 (Jack C. Gray ed., 1963).
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