Words, Oct. 14 

"Hundreds were evacuated in the aftermath of the disaster Monday, when a reservoir burst its banks at an alumina plant in Ajka ... "

Red Sludge writes: "Here we go again! When are you newspaper people going to learn that evacuate has to do with bowel movements, not moving people from one area to another?"

Sorry, Red, but your position was largely discredited at least 50 years ago, and has lost credibility since. This is what Bergen Evans, a smart cookie, wrote in his Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, published in 1957:

"Purists have been much agitated at the evacuation of wounded soldiers and of civilians from cities during the past two wars, pointing out that the term was properly a medical one, meaning a discharge or ejection through the excretory passages, especially from the bowels. But their exasperation was in part unfounded and in part (one fears) merely a pretext for displaying erudition. The term has been a military term for withdrawing from a town or fortress for almost two hundred and fifty years and during the first world war passed into current use through its employment in the newspapers. Strictly it was the place that was evacuated of the troops. But the transference of the word to the troops or the civilians themselves did no greater violence to the language than did hundreds of idioms. It is now standard in this sense ..." So fully accepted that more recent books on usage don't even address evacuate.

"The most important takeaway from this report for vending and coffee service operators is the continued rising popularity of coffee among young people."

William Lindsey writes: "I don't find any dictionaries noting that the noun 'takeaway' is equivalent to 'a point to be taken away' from a report or studies." Nor do I. But I've seen it in print a few times recently, so it may make the dictionaries eventually, much as the expression stake out spun off the noun stakeout, very popular on cops-and-robbers TV shows.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trumped in Arkansas

    • What a funny article, I hope sarcasm was your intent! First, since this was written…

    • on October 23, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation