Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: spasmodic; *spasmodical; *spasmatic; spastic.

spasmodic; *spasmodical; *spasmatic; spastic. "Spasmodic" = (1) of, relating to, or characterized by a spasm; or (2) intermittent, sporadic, unsustained. *"Spasmodical" and *"spasmatic" are needless variants. "Spasmatic" is labeled "rare or obsolete" by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, but of those two labels only "rare" is accurate — e.g.: o "Likewise, human history is a spasmatic [read 'spasmodic'], seemingly random rise from a lake, through evolution, to the high points of history." Ernest Tucker, "Laughs Fail to Work in AIDS Farce," Chicago Sun-Times, 17 Nov. 1994, at 48. o "After last week's loss to the Flyers, though, Campbell has wondered aloud if, even with the great effort and input of his stars, the Rangers have enough talent to enjoy more than spasmatic [read 'spasmodic'] success." Stu Hackel, "Campbell's Soup: Can Anyone Coach the Rangers?" Village Voice, 11 Mar. 1997, at 125. "Spastic" has literal, figurative, and slangy senses in American English: (1) (lit.) "of, relating to, or characterized by a spasm" {spastic paralysis}; (2) (fig.) "highly excitable, agitated" {a spastic child}; and (3) (rude slang) "bumbling, klutzy, incompetent" {the comedian's signature sketch was acting like a spastic high-schooler on a date with the homecoming queen}. Language-Change Index — "spasmatic" for "spasmodic": Stage 1. *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: "The bad expositor may, and often does, provide an impressive volume of published work. It may contain a valuable record of profound thinking. But yet it will fail to be very effective." Reginald O. Kapp, The Presentation of Technical Information 5 (1948; repr. 1957).
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