Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: redoubtable

redoubtable. “Redoubtable” (= [1] venerable; or [2] fearsome) is a 14th-century loanword from the Old French “redoutable” (= dreaded). Both senses are common: o Sense 1: “Chipperfield and a number of ‘britischer Architekten,’ as Architectural Review notes in its April 2006 issue, have been leaving a redoubtable imprimatur on Germany’s landscape.” Suzanne Stephens, “David Chipperfield Architects Combines Modernism and Classicism with a Reductive Clarity in the New Modern Literature Museum in Marbach, Germany,” Architectural Record, 1 Feb. 2007, at 102. o Sense 2: “The Irish were redoubtable duellists, but so lacking in decorum when potting each other that, in 1777, delegates from five counties assembled to hammer out the Irish Code Duello.” Arthur Krystal, “En Garde! The History of Duelling,” New Yorker, 12 Mar. 2007, at 80. The writer’s meaning isn’t always clear, though — e.g.: “As the new year approached, the man set to become the new Senate majority leader was the redoubtable Harry Reid, possibly the most interesting boring guy in Washington.” Todd S. Purdum, “The Majordomo: Senator Harry Reid,” Vanity Fair, Feb. 2007, at 130. (Is the “boring” senator being labeled fearsome? eminent? merely powerful?) ——————– Quotation of the Day: “New facts, new ideas, are of more value than fine phrases.” Remy de Gourmont (1858-1915), “Form and Substance,” in The Foundations of English Style 44, 44 (Paul M. Fulcher ed., 1927).
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