Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for April 4, 2020 is:

solecism • SAH-luh-siz-um  • noun

1 : an ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence; also : a minor blunder in speech

2 : something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order

3 : a breach of etiquette or decorum


“We meet at the stroke of midday on an autumnal day in his West London apartment, where I instantly commit two sins from the Common list: being on time and being Scottish. My host kindly overlooks this double solecism and has made a jug of what he calls rosé cup….” — Jan Moir, The Daily Mail (UK), 14 Sept. 2019

“He even took private instruction in English, and succeeded in eliminating his worst faults, though in moments of excitement he was prone to lapse into ‘you-all,’ ‘knowed,’ ‘sure,’ and similar solecisms. He learned to eat and dress and generally comport himself after the manner of civilized man; but through it all he remained himself….” — Jack London, Burning Daylight, 1910

Did you know?

The city of Soloi had a reputation for bad grammar. Located in Cilicia, an ancient coastal nation in Asia Minor, it was populated by Athenian colonists called soloikos (literally “inhabitant of Soloi”). According to historians, the colonists of Soloi allowed their native Athenian Greek to be corrupted and started using words incorrectly. As a result, soloikos gained a new meaning: “speaking incorrectly.” The Greeks used that sense as the basis of soloikismos, meaning “an ungrammatical combination of words.” That root, in turn, gave rise to the Latin soloecismus, the direct ancestor of the English word solecism. Nowadays, solecism can refer to social blunders as well as sloppy syntax.

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