Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Mon Apr 27 13:51:34 UTC 2009

On Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:43:29AM -0400, Laurence Horn wrote:
> At 4:03 AM -0700 4/27/09, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at> wrote:
>>  >From the recently published _The Mercedes Coffin_ by Faye
>> Kellerman (New York: William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins),
>> 2008, ISBN 978-0-06-122733-2) chapter 38 page 311:
>> "What if he holds all the purse strings and she knows he'd be
>> reticent to hire a lawyer to defend her?"
>> The word the author aimed at and missed appears to be "reluctant".
>>            James A. Landau
>>            test engineer
>>            Northrop-Grumman Information Technology
>>            8025 Black Horse Pike, Suite 300
>>            West Atlantic City NJ 08232 USA
>> ~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^
> Yup, I think we've had a couple of rounds on "reticent abuse"--Alison
> noted it in 2007 (diagnosing influence from "hesitant" as well as
> "reluctant") and Mike Quinion covered in on World Wide Words around
> the same time.  Mark Mandel thought it might have to do more with the
> orthographic resemblance between "reluctant" and "reticent" than with
> any (barely existing) phonological similarity.

It's also in MWDEU, with quotations and predecessors back a
number of decades, and a variety of other usage books.

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

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