This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Motes: a rant.

'The one that tipped me over the edge', wrote Dave Bush to me in some exasperation, 'was "It should sometimes examine the religious mote in its own eye." '

Oh no! Please, hang on there, Dave! Grab hold of a tuft of grass or something and hang on. Really. I feel your pain.

The piece of writing that's so irritated Dave ('it was the third such usage in about two weeks') comes from Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian of 14/03/13. Simon Jenkins is himself quoting the King James Bible.

Here's a bit more of the Simon Jenkins piece:

[The Catholic church's] influence...remains powerful and reactionary. The west waxes eloquent in denouncing the role of religion in the politics of Muslim states...It should sometimes examine the religious mote in its own eye.

And here's the verse of the King James Bible (from Matthew chapter 7) that Simon Jenkins is quoting:

'And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?'

So, that explains it all clearly, doesn't it: motes are to be ignored, are forgiveable, and not influencial or powerfully reactionary at all. It's beams that are the problem.

Right, that's sorted, then. And look, here's Dave, safe and sound, climbing back up over the edge of his cliff. Phew. 

All the same, it is a rather loveable word, mote, isn't it?

Word To Use Correctly today: mote. This means a tiny speck. It comes from the Old English mot. The same word in Middle Dutch means grit, and the Norwegian mutt means speck.

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