Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: truculent.

truculent. “Truculent” = (1) cruel, savage; or (2) aggressively defiant; challengingly sulky; disagreeably feisty. Although sense 2 was once condemned as a slipshod extension, today it is the ordinary use — e.g.: o “The Oilers acquired Edmonton native Brantt Myhres, a truculent left winger, from the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday in exchange for a conditional draft pick.” Tim Wharnsby, “Errey Will Sign with Stars,” Fin. Post, 17 July 1997, at 56. o “A truculent Nickles told Lenzner: ‘You know I don’t mind you messing with me, but I do mind you messing with my family.'” Susan Schmidt, “Witness Who Proposed Probe of Nickles Grilled by Senators,” Wash. Post, 1 Aug. 1997, at A16. o “This autumn, the film of the book is being released, starring Julia Ormond as the truculent and charming Smilla.” Alexandra Shulman, “What a Grey Day,” Daily Telegraph, 11 Aug. 1997, at 16. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Some usage books also condemn using “truculent” to mean “mercenary” or “base,” but actual instances in which the word has those meanings are extremely rare. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Good usage is more necessary in written than in oral discourse. In oral discourse, tone of voice and body language help bridge the chasm of meaninglessness between the speaker and the audience. In writing, these helps are absent and the bridge over the chasm must be all the more carefully paved.” John W. Velz, professor of English from 1954 to 1996.
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