Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: reify.

reify. “Reify” (= to make material, or convert mentally into a thing) is a transitive verb — e.g.: o “In his first two years, Clinton’s single biggest mistake was seeking to reify, in one great leap, his panoramic revelation of the perfect healthcare system.” Ronald Brownstein, “Expect Newt Gingrich to Renew Debate About Government’s Role,” Dayton Daily News, 22 Nov. 1994, at A11. o “Taste, touch, sight, smell, sound — all these senses are at work here, in order to reify those abstractions that hover at the backs of our minds.” Peter Thorpe, “Our Senses Frolic in Poet’s ‘Multi-Media’ Approach,” Rocky Mountain News (Denver), 28 May 1995, at A80. It shouldn’t be used intransitively — e.g.: “I’m reminded of younger abstract painters like Robert Harms, in whose work objects threaten to emerge, whereas in Park’s they threaten to reify into paint or glance.” Eileen Myles, “Darragh Park at Tibor de Nagy,” Art in America, July 1994, at 94. The meaning of that sentence is unclear even given the greater context, which (like much other art commentary) is infected with abstractitis. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————- Quotation of the Day: “Words that are the most easily understood make the strongest impression; hence, in general, the writer’s vocabulary is made more strong by the use of common words, words of the home and of everyday life, words expressing simple relations.” John F. Genung, Outlines of Rhetoric 117-18 (1893).
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