Garner's Usage Tip of the Day: simpatico.

simpatico. Like “sympathy,” the adjective “sympatico” derives from the Greek word “sympatheia” (= sympathy). But “simpatico” (= mutually fond or understanding) came to English in the 19th century as a loanword from either Italian or Spanish — probably the former. In good English the word has always had the “sim-” spelling. Stumbling on the pattern of “sympathy,” writers often misspell the word — e.g.: o “The Bulls, thought to be a contender with several new arrivals, notably Ben Wallace, lost six in a row and now are dealing with Wallace’s blatant insurrection by insisting on wearing a headband, which the team does not allow. He and coach Scott Skiles are, for the moment, not sympatico [read ‘simpatico’].” Peter May, “East Teams Have Gone South,” Boston Globe, 28 Nov. 2006, at E3. o “[Iris] meets humorous, energetic Miles (Jack Black), another composer attached to a sexy actress (Shannyn Sossamon) but much more sympatico [read ‘simpatico’] with Iris, who doesn’t know that she’s a knockout until her new friends in L.A. tell her.” Michael Sragow, “‘Holiday’ Sweet,” Baltimore Sun, 8 Dec. 2006, at C1. Although “simpatico” is an adjective, some err by wielding it as a noun — e.g.: “Iowans this Sunday will want to see if there is some ‘sympatico [read, perhaps, ‘affinity’], is there a gut feeling about this person. . . . They want to feel his cloth, they want to see just how real this guy is,’ [Sen. Tom] Harkin said.” Lynn Sweet, “Dems ‘Confused,’ Obama Writes,” Chicago Sun Times, 15 Sept. 2006, News §, at 22 (quoting Senator Tom Harkin on the subject of presidential nominee Barack Obama). That type of misusage repels sympathy. Language-Change Index — (1) “simpatico” misspelled *"sympatico": Stage 1; (2) “simpatico” used as a noun (not as an adjective): Stage 2. *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “In my editorial shorthand, I have a rule: ‘One plus one equals one-half.’ It means that if two adjectives are used, either one will probably produce a stronger effect than the two together; if two phrases say the same thing in different ways, the effect will be strengthened by choosing the better of the two and dropping the other. This process removes . . . the least good in favor of the best.” Sol Stein, “The Author as Editor,” in Editors on Editing 54, 57 (Gerald Gross ed., rev. ed. 1985).
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