Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: vouchsafe.

vouchsafe. “Vouchsafe” ordinarily denotes “to grant something in a condescending way,” or, more neutrally, “to grant something as a special favor.” The word is often mildly sarcastic — e.g.: “Gen. Powell’s opinions, as he has been vouchsafing them, were unformed or, where formed, oddly out of date.” “America’s Son,” Nat’l Rev., 27 Nov. 1995, at 12. The term is sometimes misused in two ways. First, it’s sometimes used as if it were equivalent to “grant,” “bestow on,” or “provide” — e.g.: “Last week, MTV vouchsafed [read ‘bestowed on’] him its Video Vanguard award, shortly after his sitcom, ‘In the House,’ went into its third season.” Thomas Goetz, “Sell Sell,” Village Voice, 16 Sept. 1997. Second, it’s sometimes misused for “vouch for” (= to provide assurance of) — e.g.: “What do your other dealer friends and collectors think about it? Has a reliable restorer vouchsafed [read ‘vouched for’] its condition?” Edward Lewine, “How Not to Look Like a Dope in an Art Gallery,” N.Y. Times, 14 Sept. 1997, § 13, at 1. Language-Change Index — (1) “vouchsafe” misused for “bestow on”: Stage 1; (2) “vouchsafe” misused for “vouch for”: Stage 1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ————————————— Quotation of the Day: “Your business is to give the reader something of value he does not already possess. Do not bore him by putting in material he knows already, nor confuse him by including material that has no relation to your real point. Plunge in. An abrupt beginning is better than a dull one.” James Weber Linn, The Essentials of English Composition § 11, at 17 (1916). —————————————
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