This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Worse than simple: a rant.

Simple Simon and the pie man according to Denslow.

The first time you hear it, it's just a mistake. 

Well, everyone makes mistakes.

But then you come across it again - and again - and eventually it starts to get a bit annoying. I mean, can it be that one original ignoramus is managing to convince the other eight hundred and forty million English-speaking people on the planet that he's the one who's right????

So: some simple definitions.

Simple means not complicated. Simple, as in he's simple, can also mean that someone's a simpleton (a foolish, ignorant, non-too-clever person) too.

Simplistic is a different word. It doesn't mean simple in either of those senses. This is why it shouldn't be used to mean simple in either of those senses. Yes, I know it starts with lots of the same letters, but then so do macadam and macadamia, and one's a road surface and the other's a nut.

And, speaking of nuts...

If I said people who use the word simplistic wrongly are nuts, then that would be simplistic, because although some of them probably would be, most of them would be merely annoying. What I'd be doing is over-simplifying the situation. 

And that's what simplistic is: it's an over-simplification. Exercise is good for you is simplistic. So is if we set an example of being nice to each other then all wars will stop.

Now, I'm a realist. I don't expect people to stop using simplistic as a posh way of saying simple (as in it's quite a simplistic recipe, grr!) but I can't promise not to give a wince of pain when someone does.

Would it be simplistic to suggest this might be a remedy?



Ah well.

Word To Use Correctly Today: simplistic. The Latin simplex means plain.

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