Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: *uncategorically.

*uncategorically. *”Uncategorically” is a silly but distressingly common malapropism for “categorically” (= unconditionally, without qualification). And it has gotten wide exposure. In 1991, Judge Clarence Thomas, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “uncategorically” denied that he had discussed pornographic materials with Ms. Anita Hill: “Senator, I would like to start by saying unequivocally, uncategorically, that I deny each and every single allegation against me today.” “The Thomas Nomination,” N.Y. Times, 13 Oct. 1991, § 1, at 12. Even by then, the illogically formed nonword had already made its way into print — e.g.: “‘I adore Rourke,’ Jean-Pierre Wagneur says uncategorically [read ‘categorically’].” Alessandra Stanley, “Can 50 Million Frenchmen Be Wrong?” N.Y. Times, 21 Oct. 1990, § 6, at 41. Language-Change Index — *”uncategorically”: Stage 1. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “There is no more irritating fellow than the man who tries to settle an argument about communism, or justice, or liberty, by quoting from Webster.” Mortimer Adler, “How to Read a Dictionary” (1941), in Words, Words, Words About Dictionaries 53, 59 (Jack C. Gray ed., 1963).

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