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

*unmercilessly. *”Unmercilessly” is a malapropism and nonword on the order of *”uncategorically.” “Mercilessly,” of course, is the word — e.g.: o “He worked with top-flight professionals and drilled them unmercilessly [read ‘mercilessly’].” David Richards, “That Fosse Flair,” Wash. Post, 27 Sept. 1987, at F12. o “They were joined in their crime by the ‘slashers’ who cut away at the film gem unmercilessly [read ‘mercilessly’], undoubtedly to make room for all the commercials in its two-hour time slot.” L.A. Times, 24 Dec. 1989, TV Times §, at 2. o “Helmut Deutsch was admirable in the pianistic scene-painting, but thumped his way unmercilessly [read ‘mercilessly’] through ‘Die Erlkonig’ at the end of the evening.” John Allison, “Individual Vocal Talent — Recitals,” Fin. Times, 30 Nov. 1995, at 29. Though it is a syllable longer than “mercilessly,” “unmercifully” also suffices — e.g.: “And still, Stevie Wonder seemed intent on taking his sweet, soulful time, teasing us unmercifully, making us sweat for his presence.” Patricia Smith, “He’s Still a Wonder to Behold,” Boston Globe, 4 Jan. 1995, at 53. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Language-Change Index — *”unmercilessly” for “mercilessly”: Stage 1. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Dictionary makers must . . . deal with word coiners who press for the inclusion of their inventions. Their neologisms are often ingenious, but are admitted to the word sanctuaries only through the gate of popular acceptance.” Felicia Lamport, “Dictionaries: Our Language Right or Wrong” (1950), in Words, Words, Words About Dictionaries 64, 66 (Jack C. Gray ed., 1963).
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