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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How Bad Was It, David?

In the course of a conversation with Cicero this afternoon, Livia mentioned the alarming trend among soi-disant journalists (and others, following their example) to use words that sound like the ones they want, but aren't. Challenged to produce an example, Livia lost no time in trotting out "enormity." Good gods, it's everywhere.
  • "Well, Wolf, how prepared do you think President-elect Obama is?" "You know, David, I hope he's prepared for the enormity of the task before him."
  • "Let me tell you, Sylvia, the enormity of that slide was almost more than little Flavius could handle."
  • "The enormity of the Pacific struck awe into Alexandra's soul.
Webster's II: "Enormity: 1. Outrageous or heinous character; atrociousness, as the enormity of war crimes. 2. Something outrageous or heinous, as an offense."

Please, please, please, people! Unless that slide is about to devour little Flavius, it does not possess the attribute of "enormity." It's BIG. Huge, maybe. Even enormous. But heinous? Livia doubts it.

The task before Mr. Obama may well be another story, however.

LIVIA DRUSA

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