Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: unconscious; subconscious.

unconscious; subconscious. These words are most commonly adjectives. “Unconscious” = (1) lacking consciousness; senseless {the blow knocked him unconscious}; (2) unaware {she was unconscious of the danger}; (3) not perceived by oneself {an unconscious slip of the tongue}; or (4) not done on purpose; unintentional {an unconscious slight}. “Subconscious” = not fully or wholly conscious {a subconscious motive}. But the words are also synonymous nouns meaning “the part of the human psyche that is inaccessible to consciousness and that is largely dominated by repressed desires and experiences that can’t be recalled.” Professional psychologists “tend to use the term ‘unconscious’ in preference to ‘subconscious’ nowadays. . . . [But] the preferred lay term seems to be ‘subconscious.'” Donald Watson, A Dictionary of Mind and Spirit 326 (1991). For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Doublespeak is a deceptive use of language — frequently a euphemism masking a truth or protecting an evil-doer, for example, when a war is called a police action, killing becomes termination with extreme prejudice, or a missile is named the Peacekeeper.” Dennis Baron, Declining Grammar and Other Essays of the English Vocabulary 102 (1989).
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