Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: solecism.

solecism. Generally, "solecism" (/SAHL-uh-siz-uhm/) refers to a grammatical or syntactic error, often a gross mistake. E.g.: "I once spoke French well enough to teach in a Marseille lycee — but that was 25 years ago and today I could hardly string two sentences together without committing some gross solecism." Michael Dirda, "The Lingo Kid," Wash. Post, 18 May 1997, Book World §, at 15. A solecism can also be a social impropriety, especially in British English — e.g.: "'This [feeding fruitcake to the royal corgis] is always regarded as an unforgivable solecism at the Palace, where only the Queen is permitted to augment her dogs' diets in this way,' says my man at the palace." Tim Walker, "News-Mandrake-Black Looks," Sunday Telegraph, 10 Nov. 2002, at P38. Yet the word has been extended to figurative senses in American English as well — e.g.: o "Yet in the end Siddiqui's artistry overrides even the solecisms of the [musical] score." Jenny Gilbert, "Delicate Hands, Feet of Artistry," Independent, 23 Mar. 1997, at 15. o "It is full of junk history, such as the rustic ideal of the country cottage, which he appears not to realize is an entirely modern idea; or the tiresome solecism, that everyone likes 'Georgian' architecture, but that 'speculative development' is necessarily bad." Boaz Ben Manasseh, "Spirit and Place," Architectural Rev., 1 Nov. 2002, at 96. For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: "Some of our most celebrated writers . . . have been guilty of great solecisms, inaccuracies, and even grammatical improprieties, in many places of their most finished works." Thomas Sheridan (1780) (as quoted in Dwight Bolinger, Language: The Loaded Weapon 55 (1980)).
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