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

Miscellaneous Entries. refugee; evacuee. “Refugee” (= one who flees home to seek safety) originally denoted French Huguenots who fled to England in the late 1680s to escape religious persecution. The word has another (rare) sense, denoting a fugitive on the run. “Refugee” had lost most of its connotations of foreignness or truancy when Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of New Orleans residents out of the city in August 2005. But many of those who fled objected to being referred to as “refugees” in news accounts and political discourse. Almost overnight the word was displaced by “evacuee” (= one who withdraws from a place, esp. under an order from some authority). refutation; *refutal. The first is standard. The second is an unnecessary and ill-formed variant — e.g.: “In a point-by-point refutal [read ‘refutation’] of the 42-page civil action, Columbia/HCA . . . say in court documents that they were exercising ‘independent business judgment.'” Roz Hutchinson, “Wesley Responds to Wichita Clinic Lawsuit,” Wichita Bus. J. (Kan.), 22 Nov. 1996, at 5. Sometimes the word is misused for “denial” — e.g.: “Michael Shermer . . . has written a valuable primer debunking many of the crackpot obsessions of our time — alien abductions, creationist science, Holocaust refutal [read ‘denial’], the statistics-bespangled racism of the bell curve and pseudoscientific theology among them.” Todd Gitlin, “Millennial Mumbo Jumbo,” L.A. Times, 27 Apr. 1997, Book Rev. §, at 8. regarding is sometimes ambiguous. It can function as a preposition, meaning “with respect to; concerning; about” {I have no comment regarding the jury’s verdict}. Or it can function as a gerund, meaning “consideration; taking into account” {regarding modern life in a contemplative way is understandably depressing}. *Invariably inferior forms. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————- Quotation of the Day: “‘Words too familiar or too remote, . . . defeat the purpose of a poet.'” Samuel Johnson, Life of Dryden (as quoted in W.K. Wimsatt Jr., The Prose Style of Samuel Johnson 107 (1941; repr. 1963)).
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