LSSU Banished Words list, 2008

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jan 4 14:21:24 UTC 2008

On Jan 2, 2008 11:42 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> for "decimate", note: "Word-watchers have been calling for the
> annihilation of this one for several years."
> make that "for at least 138 years", since 1870 (when Richard Grant
> White raved about it).  nice instance of the Recency Illusion, but for
> peeves rather than usages.
> i have a Language Log posting in preparation in which i nominate
> "decimate" for the Peevy Award for Lifetime Achievement among Great
> Language Peeves (peeves that are widespread, of long standing, and
> passionately advocated, in the face of solid long-time contrary
> practice by educated speakers and writers, not to mention a thoroughly
> specious rationale for the peeve).
> it's a crowded field, but "decimate" is a truly outstanding contender.

While we anxiously await the Peevy Awards, here's something I wrote
about "decimate" for OUPblog...

(Note that Richard Grant White started complaining about the word in 1868...)

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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