or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, July 13, 2007


This is the actual headline from a recent Consumerist story:

Airport Scales Are Often Innacurate

There's a small but significant group of words that you don't ever want to misspell, particularly in a theoretically edited published story, definitely in a headline, and one of those words is "inaccurate".

Yes, I considered the possibility that it was a joke. I honestly don't think so. Consumerist is rife with typos these days ("complain" instead of "complaint" in this story). Always has been, now that I think about it. They're just not paying attention.


Where does "inaccurate" come from, anyway? Just looking at it doesn't suggest an obvious etymology.

We can quickly dispense with the prefixes and suffix. "In-" means "not". "Ac-" is a variant of "ad-", "towards", used before words that contain a "-c-" or a "-q-" ("accede" and "acquit", for instance). And "-ate" is a suffix that serves to turn parts of speech into other parts of speech, as nouns to verbs ("difference"/"differentiate") or verbs to adjectives ("despair"/"desperate").

What we're left with is the stem "-cur-", which, as it turns out, is from Latin "cura", the predecessor of English "to care"; a piece of writing which is accurate has been carefully prepared. "Cura" is also, as you may have surmised, the source of "cure" in English: first "cura", then "curare", "to take care of", and then the verb "curer", directly from the French, and then "curen" and finally the modern "cure". (The English word "curare" is not related to the Latin in any way: it's instead from the Portuguese, who got it from the Carib word "kurari".)


Blogger D.J. said...

From today's L.A. Times article ("Key Goals in Iraq Elusive") about the recent Iraq status report:

"Because it is a very narrow set of benchmarks, we think that there are other indicators that we are tracking that are a more fulsome representation of how things are going on the ground," said a senior Defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the contents of the report.

He didn't demand anonymity because he wasn't authorized. He demanded it because he was ashamed.

(Horrible conspiratorial possibility: he really did mean "fulsome.")

Friday, July 13, 2007 8:49:00 PM  

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