Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: tyrannical; tyrannous.

tyrannical; tyrannous. Though the senses often seem to merge, “tyrannical” means “like a tyrant,” while “tyrannous” means “like a tyranny.” In the following example, it can be readily seen that a tyrant is being suggested: “Is Parks and Recreation Commissioner Harry Stern a tyrannical despot who deprives hobbyists of their natural right to troll for metallic treasure?” Rachel Malamud, “A Stern Confrontation,” Village Voice, 29 July 1997, at 26. Yet here the two forms provoke suspicions of inelegant variation: “As for white fears of tyrannical black governments (there is no shortage of examples from black-ruled Africa), need I remind him that the victims of these tyrannous regimes are predominantly black people?” Milton Allimadi, “Democracy in S. Africa,” Newsday (N.Y.), 6 Oct. 1990, at 14. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “‘Style, in its finest sense, is the last acquirement of the educated mind; it is also the most useful. It pervades the whole being. . . . Style is the ultimate morality of mind.'” Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education (as quoted in Donald E. Hayden, Classics in Composition vii (Donald E. Hayden ed., 1969)).
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