Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: vociferous; voracious.

vociferous; voracious. A “vociferous” person is loud, noisy, and clamorous; a “vociferous” crowd is characterized by unrestrained yelling. A “voracious” person or animal, meanwhile, devours food ravenously; a “voracious” reader has an insatiable desire for books, magazines, and other reading materials. In short, although the two words appear similar, they apply to very different types of behavior. Through word-swapping, they get confounded. “Vociferous” is sometimes misused for “voracious” — e.g.: o “Monsignor Field [is] a nurturing mentor, with a depth that allowed him to be at once an aficionado of the opera, a vociferous [read ‘voracious’] reader and a fan of basketball.” Susan Todd, “Rev. William Field, 84, a Priest’s Priest,” Star-Ledger (Newark), 4 Dec. 2000, at 67. o “Atlanta’s vociferous [read ‘voracious’] appetite for water isn’t likely to wane anytime soon.” “Protecting Our Water,” Greenville News (S.C.), 19 Feb. 2002, at A6. The opposite error is somewhat less common — e.g.: “Ironically, despite Olson’s voracious [read ‘vociferous’] opposition to federal special prosecutors, one of his oldest, best friends is Kenneth Starr, the Clinton special prosecutor.” Chuck Goudie, “Bush Attorney Held Keys to Operation Greylord,” Daily Herald (Chicago), 15 Dec. 2000, at 10. Language-Change Index — (1) “vociferous” misused for “voracious”: Stage 1; (2) “voracious” misused for “vociferous”: Stage 1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “As for business and official English, that is notoriously formalized. It retains constructions, phrases, words, which have by long use become (in Shakespeare’s phrase) overworn, and survive only in a kind of living death.” G.H. Vallins, The Best English 12-13 (1960; repr. 1973). —————————————
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