Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day
“Tu quoque” (/too KWOH-kwee/ [lit., “you also”] = a retort in kind; accusing an accuser of a similar offense) is a phrase that traditionally serves as a noun — e.g.: “Such gatekeepers of the right as Irving Kristol and Robert Bartley blithely promote their flat-earth ideas with breathtaking intellectual dishonesty, and no amount of tu quoque can smear it away.” Todd Gitlin, “Up from Conservatism,” Wash. Monthly, 1 Sept. 1996, at 46.
The term is also used as an adjective — e.g.: “They managed to outflank the court’s ban on tu quoque evidence (meaning, ‘If I am guilty, you are, too’), a stricture aimed at keeping Allied excesses, notably the mass bombing of German cities, out of the trial.” Robert Shnayerson, “Judgment at Nuremburg,” Smithsonian, 1 Oct. 1996, at 124.
And it’s awkwardly coming into use as a verb — e.g.:
o “Retiring Sen. Dennis DeConcini at first declined to answer her question, finally tu quoque-ing her with the question, ‘What about your own pension, Miss Stahl?'” William F. Buckley Jr., “Pension Exposé Perfectly Timed,” Daily Oklahoman, 5 Nov. 1994, at 8.
o “Even the new scandal over Clinton’s shady ties to an Indonesian financial group, which date back to his early days in Arkansas politics, isn’t helping Dole, who has also taken enough money from foreign donors that the Clinton campaign, unable to deny the charges, can ‘tu quoque’ the issue.” Joseph Sobran, “Not Different Enough,” News & Record (Greensboro), 27 Oct. 1996, at F4.
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Quotation of the Day:
“The key to proper organization is subordination.” Keith Fort, “Form Authority, and the Critical Essay” (1971), in Contemporary Rhetoric 171, 178 (W. Ross Winterowd ed., 1975).