Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: supplicant, *suppliant

supplicant; *suppliant. “Supplicant” is the standard term meaning “one who earnestly beseeches; a humble petitioner” — e.g.: o “Upstairs in a darkened room of the Edina home in which he was staying, Sakya Trizin, supreme head of one of Tibetan Buddhism’s four branches, received a constant stream of supplicants.” Kay Miller, “Buddhism from Tibet Pursues Energy of West,” Star Trib. (Minneapolis), 8 July 1995, at A1. o “The ugly fact is that each of these senators, and every other member of Congress, owes his or her job in some measure to the ability to squeeze money out of those who come before Congress as supplicants.” “‘Investigate Clinton, Not Us,’ Is the Cry of the GOP,” USA Today, 4 Mar. 1997, at A12. o “Yeltsin has been cut out of some crucial discussions and sometimes treated as a needy supplicant.” Cragg Hines, “Yeltsin Signs NATO Accord, Agrees to Redirect Missiles,” Houston Chron., 28 May 1997, at 1. *”Suppliant” is a needless variant because it occurs much less frequently and because it less closely matches the corresponding verb, ‘supplicate.’ *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Speakers may be divided into three groups: the Assured, the Anxious and the Indifferent. It is the members of the second group, the Anxious, who are prone to commit the most grievous offences against elementary syntactic function in their excessive solicitude for correctness, whereas the Indifferent are more liable to indulge in condonable misdemeanors.” Simeon Potter, Modern Linguistics 165 (2d ed. 1967).
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