Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. vindictive; vindicatory; *vindicative. “Vindictive” = given to or characterized by revenge or retribution. “Vindicatory” = (1) providing vindication {a vindicatory eyewitness account}; or (2) punitive, retributive {vindicatory actions against the company}. Because sense 2 verges closely on the domain of “vindictive,” “vindicatory” should be reserved for sense 1. *”Vindicative” is a needless variant that ill-advisedly displaces “vindictive” — e.g.: “Indeed, Chancellor suggests, those hostile feelings coupled with Patricia’s compulsive need for things and recognition fuel her almost vindicative [read ‘vindictive’] toyings with Stanley.” Simi Horwitz, “Deborah Findlay & Anna Chancellor Create the Muses in ‘Stanley,'” Back Stage, 21 Feb. 1997, at 19. violable. So formed — not *”violatable.” violative. The phrase “to be violative of” is verbose for “to violate.” E.g.: “This proposal is too flagrantly violative of the First Amendment [read ‘violates the First Amendment too flagrantly’] to merit anything but condemnation.” Walter G. Markum, “Campaign Finance Reform? Don’t Bet on It,” Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk), 13 Oct. 1997, at B10. The Oxford English Dictionary records “violative” from 1856 at the earliest, but the word appeared more than half a century before in a famous Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison (1803): “To withhold the commission, therefore, is an act deemed by the court not warranted by law, but violative of a vested legal right.” Virgil, not “Vergil,” is the standard spelling for the Roman poet who wrote the Aeneid — this despite his full Latin name, Publius Vergilius Maro. virtual derives from the Latin root “virtus” (= virtue, effectiveness, strength, excellence). In its most traditional sense, the adjective means “in essence or effect, but not formally or titularly” {in Nicholas’s absence, Rasputin became a virtual tsar}. By extension, it has come to denote “almost” {traffic came to a virtual standstill} or, quite loosely, “figurative” {we’re buried in a virtual avalanche of paperwork}. In the 1980s, computer users and science-fiction writers adopted the term to describe data, software, interfaces, and the like that exist in electronic form only {virtual reality}. That’s a handy term, filling a new need in the language. But it sets up the potential for some awkward mixed uses {the world is a virtual playground}. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “After all, the first law of writing, that law to which all other laws are subordinate, is this: that the words employed should be such as to convey to the reader the meaning of the writer.” Thomas Babington Macaulay (as quoted in Sir Ernest Gowers, The Complete Plain Words 12 (1954; repr. 1964)). ====================
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