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Now it starts

It’s Monday, so you can kick off your work week with a fresh vocabulary word and a joke.

The word of the week is prescient.

We’ve now had six months of words of the week, and you can examine the entire set here.

The joke of the week is “Before It Starts.”



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:28 PM | | Comments (4)


i had a feeling you were going to pick that word.

I agree, Strongpoint. I saw that one coming too.

What I hadn't foreseen was the way you pronounce it. My Chambers agrees with you, but to me and Oxford it's an s, not a sh, and there are three vowels. Perhaps I sound a bit precious?

Interesting. My desktop Oxfords are evidently BrE pronouncers. OED gives a BrE version with s and three vowels, an AmE version with sh and three vowels, and an AmE version with sh and two vowels.

Fowler MEU shows how the British versions have changed. In MEU1 he says the 1909 OED gave only the pronunciation preeshyens, but that preshyens was just as common. By MEU2, Gowers is adding that a new pronunciation with ‘s’ in place of ‘sh’ is often heard. By MEU3, Burchfield has press-i-ens as the only BrE pronunciation.

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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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