Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: exquisite.

exquisite. Part A: Pronunciation. The word is better pronounced with the first syllable accented /EK-skwiz-it/; in American English, however, stressing the second (/ek-SKWIZ-it/) is acceptable. Part B: Use. Although there is historical justification for using “exquisite” (= acute) in reference to pain, modern readers are likely to find this use macabre at best, for they generally understand the word as meaning “keenly discriminating” {exquisite taste} or “especially beautiful” {an exquisite vase}. For many readers, the obsolescent sense is merely a miscue — e.g.: “Steve R., a sign painter, suffered such exquisite [read ‘excruciating’] pain in his ankle that he could barely walk.” Louise Continelli, “Learning to Control Chronic Pain,” Buffalo News, 6 Sept. 1994, Lifestyles §, at 1. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. Quotation of the Day: “Billions of dollars are spent on advertising in this country. Advertising companies hire the very brightest, wittiest young people to write for them. Not one single sentence of it is worth repeating. Why? Because it wasn’t meant. It was all written, not because the writer felt something and then said it (if you feel a thing the more simply you say it the better, the more effectively), but because he tried to impress and inveigle people, convince them something is very fine about which he himself does not really care a button.” Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write 115-16 (2d ed. 1987).
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