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Thanks a heap, Merriam-Webster

A colleague has forwarded the sentence that Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day feature saw fit yesterday to illustrate the word feckless (weak, ineffective, worthless, irresponsible):

Although Trevor was admired by his colleagues at the newspaper, he turned out to be a feckless reporter, and so he was reassigned to the copy desk.

If Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day should ever consider presenting the word nebbish (a timid, meek, or ineffectual person), this illustration is available:

Though as a teenager Trevor had dreamed of wealth and power and the love of beautiful women, he was such a nebbish that the only career open to him was lexicography.

(Messrs. Sheidlower and Barrett and Ms. McKean, don’t your colleagues know better than to mess with the copy desk?)



Posted by John McIntyre at 9:10 AM | | Comments (4)


Oooh, buuuurn.

As the Irish would say, feck 'em

Reminds me of what my colleague George Thompson told the New York Times in explanation of why he spends hours researching word histories in the library: "It's a cheap hobby, and it keeps me from falling into the company of frolicsome women."



No one on the copy desk would bear such a name.

Wranglin' tenses is a manly trade, worthy of Teddy Roosevelt.

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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
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