« Surely you jest: Man with a parrot | Main | Surely you jest: Disraeli's dinner »

More on 'disenfranchised'

My preference for disfranchised over disenfranchised, expressed in a post last Saturday, has drawn a response from Michael Covarrubias at Purdue — he maintains the blog Wishydig. He challenged my position on etymological and morphological grounds, and I am compelled to admit, as they say in British criminal circles, it’s a fair cop.

What impressed me more, however, was a couple of sentences in the note by which he informed me of his post: “I read your blog regularly and appreciate it very much. I'm a linguist and an obnoxious descriptivist. It's voices like yours that give me hope that prescriptivism is not the enemy.”

In this season of goodwill, or attempts at goodwill, it’s encouraging to see the prescriptivist and descriptivist sit down together in mutual respect.

I’m also indebted to Mr. Covarrubias for a new word, hathos, a term for attraction to something one finds repellant. It is a delight to be able to name a phenomenon of which one was dimly aware without having previously brought it into focus. Hathos is just the word to describe one’s attitude to fried bologna sandwiches, the oeuvre of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Paula Deen’s cookery, the films of Adam Sandler, the New York Post — perhaps this word is worth a separate post, with a call for nominations.

Compliments of the season, Mr. Covarrubias.



Posted by John McIntyre at 10:39 AM | | Comments (8)


hathos, a term for attraction to something one finds repellant.

Owl meat gravy

perhaps hathos explains why I'm compelled to watch those shows on TLC about the super-morbidly obese; people with huge, disfiguring tumors; and rare and disgusting skin afflictions.

Wishydig has been bookmarked. Thanks.

Hathos is just the word to describe one’s attitude ...the oeuvre of Creedence Clearwater Revival...

"Put Me In Coach" doesn't stir your soul? It's pretty much the story of my life.


NewSong's "Christmas Shoes," the worst song ever recorded. I hate every line, but when it came on the radio today I was compelled to listen so I could marvel again at how thoroughly phony and cheap it is.

I believe "Centerfield" was solo John Fogarty, therefore, not technically part of the CCR oeuvre.

Hathos: Dan Brown novels, lutefisk, 1776 the musical

As for hathos-inducing Christmas carols, they include, but are not limited to, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer",
"Mele Kalikimaka", and that holiday classic, "Crabs for Christmas".

If I'm getting this "hathos" thing (and I'm not clear that I am) wouldn't "Santa Baby" sung by ANYONE from Eartha Kitt to Taylor Swift be an example?

' "Put Me In Coach" '

A song about an overbooked holiday airplane trip, I guess.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected