Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: supersede

Today: Spelling. This word — from the Latin root “-sed-” (“to sit”), not “-ced-” (“to move”) — is properly spelled with an internal -s-, not a -c-. But so many other English words end in “-cede” or “-ceed” that many writers unconsciously distort the spelling of “supersede.” Spelling it correctly is one of the hallmarks of a punctilious writer. The misspelling occurs in some surprising places — e.g.: o “The decision sends a strong message to lumber companies that claim their property rights supercede [read ‘supersede’] environmental concerns.” Daniel Sneider, “Species Act Survives Challenge,” Christian Science Monitor, 21 Feb. 1997, at 3. o “For now, their legal battle in California mostly centers on jurisdiction, whether the state’s gun laws supercede [read ‘supersede’] those enacted locally.” Lynda Gorov, “Calif. Gun Battle,” Boston Globe, 18 Apr. 1997, at A1. Language-Change Index — “supersede” misspelled *”supercede”: Stage 3. *Invariably inferior forms. Next: The Corresponding Noun. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “A dictionary is a compendium of a nation’s thought, social life, domestic and foreign activities. It is almost possible to lay down a dictum and say: Show me the nation’s dictionary, and I will build up from it a true picture of the nation itself.” B.L.K. Henderson, Chats About Our Mother Tongue 5 (1927).
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