Solecism Of The Year

Usually I just  say “of the day,” but this one has suddenly started cropping up all over the place and it is about time someone told the publicly uttering world to knock it off:

There were times where she couldn’t even find the bathroom in the house that she grew up in. And that’s how bad things were during that time. Whether that was from pharmaceuticals or seizures, we’re still unsure. I think that the pharmaceuticals actually exasperated her condition and made her worse. (Alternet, May 9)

A pretty interesting article, by the way, except for the [headdesk] effect of the interviewee (or her transcriber) not understanding the difference between exasperated, at the end of one’s patience, and exacerbated, made worse. Funny, because she could have done without the five-dollar word: she redundizes in the next breath with the perfectly good one-syllable phrase “made it worse.”

I see this in news stories. I hear it on TV news broadcasts, or more precisely see it on closed captionings since I stay away from audibly broadcasting televisions. It seems to have overtaken in frequency the misuse of “diffuse,” to distribute or titrate within a medium, for “defuse,” keep something — in common use, usually a tense situation — from blowing the fuck up out of control.

English is a wonderful language, full of inclusions from Latin, Greek, Brythonic and Teutonic ancestors, rich in options that allow a speaker to describe anything with art, grace and precision. If you bother to learn how to use it.


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