Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: vicious; viscous.

vicious; viscous. “Vicious” (= brutal) is sometimes confounded with “viscous” (= gummy) — e.g.: o “Crouching just behind the service line, Agassi ran around his backhand to take a viscous [read ‘vicious’] rip at a return off Ferrero’s timid serve.” Selena Roberts, “Agassi Out as Ferrero Capitalizes on a Break,” N.Y. Times, 7 June 2002, at D2. o “Stealing a page from some old boxer’s book, Douglas let Tyson punch himself out through the early rounds and then unleashed a viscous [read ‘vicious’] combination of sharp jabs and sharper shots on the champ.” “Iron Bites,” Pitt. Post-Gaz., 7 June 2002, at B2. Language-Change Index — “viscous” misused for “vicious”: Stage 1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he . . . then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step.” Edgar Allan Poe, “Unity of Impression” (1842), in Perspectives on Style 120, 122 (Frederick Candelaria ed., 1968).
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