Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lawsuit.

lawsuit. Journalists often misuse “lawsuit” (one word) for “complaint” (= the paper that is filed to start a lawsuit) — e.g.: o “In its 18-page lawsuit [read ‘complaint’], Viacom-owned CBS alleged: ‘”Celebrity” was consciously designed to mimic “Survivor” and unfairly trade on its success.'” Meg James, “CBS Sues to Block New ABC Program,” L.A. Times, 7 Nov. 2002, Bus. section, pt. 3, at 3. o “The allegations in his 144-page lawsuit [read ‘complaint’] read like a Robin Cook novel.” Lynne Tuohy, “Pfizer Trials Called Cruel, Immoral,” Hartford Courant, 6 Dec. 2002, at A1. The “lawsuit” is the whole process; the document (however many pages long) is only an instrumental part of it. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Most languages of uncivilized groups are, by our most severe standards, extremely complex, delicate, and ingenious pieces of machinery for the transfer of ideas. They fall behind our western language of civilization not in their sound patterns or grammatical structures, which usually are fully adequate for all language needs, but only in their vocabularies, which reflect the objects and activities known to their speakers.” Mario Pei, Language for Everybody 207 (1956). ====================
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