Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Tendentious (1).

tendentious (1). Today: Generally. “Tendentious” = (of a writing, etc.) tending to promote a given viewpoint; biased. The word appears much more commonly in British English than in American English — e.g.: o “The Whitehall information code says no press release should contain tendentious or politically biased material.” David Hencke, “Whitehall Press Officers Sound Off,” Guardian, 17 Oct. 1997, at 4. o “Politicians love to use history as a tool to justify policy. . . . The tendency drives historians mad, however. They argue that such a shallow use of the past is selective, tendentious, and sometimes just factually incorrect.” Mark Rice-Oxley, “In Arguing for War, Blair Enlists History as His Ally,” Christian Science Monitor, 7 Mar. 2003, World §, at 7. Avoid the variant spelling *"tendencious." The word doesn’t properly apply to people, in the sense “prejudiced” or “biased” — e.g.: “Bretecher’s world is peopled by tendentious [read ‘prejudiced’ or ‘biased’] hippies who turn into pretentious yuppies.” Mary Schmich, “Accent on Agony,” Chicago Trib., 3 Aug. 1997, at 18. Language-Change Index — “tendentious” misused in reference to a person, as opposed to an argument, statement, presentation, etc.: Stage 1. *Invariably inferior form. Next: For “contentious.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “It is fairly easy to see how sentences hang together but not so easy to pick up the tone of voice they imply.” Walter Nash, An Uncommon Tongue: The Uses and Resources of English 53 (1992).
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