Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Egregiously Genteel

It’s strange how words lose their richness and become much less than they were. I think of two that have become impoverished, that have fallen into decline. Both are genteelisms- epithet and egregious. The first has declined from being a significant and singular appellation eg. The Iron Duke (Wellington), The Iron Lady (Thatcher), Frederick the Great and so forth. Now it has become merely a derogatory adjective characteristically applied.

Egregious (ex grex - above the herd) has also slumped to an indefinite term of disapprobation, flagrant in some manner. That’s the usage and we can’t argue with it but I ask ‘what herd does he stand out from’? Is he an egregious liar, an egregious bounder, an egregious bully, what?

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