Anecdote: St Paul=?windows-1252?Q?=92s_?=Cathedral Is artificial, amusing, pompous, and awful

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 31 23:39:07 UTC 2012

Language Log in 2006 posted these words from Chris Christensen:

[Begin excerpt]

When Charles II saw Christopher Wren's St. Paul's Cathedral for the first
time, he called it "awful, pompous, and artificial." Meaning roughly:
Awesome, majestic, and ingenious.

[End excerpt]

This story has many permutations, and Nigel Rees included a version in
Brewer’s Famous Quotations (2006). William Safire mentioned the story in
his New York Times column in 1997. It's also mentioned in the Wikipedia
entry for "Auto-antonym" which I read after reading Martin Kaminer's
message with the subject line "Autoantonymic idioms?"

The Quote Investigator blog now has an entry. Feedback appreciated.

St Paul’s Cathedral Is Amusing, Awful, and Artificial


The American Dialect Society -

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