Monday, March 30, 2020

Ultra-Quickies: A Linguistic Grump

     To all those writing about the Wuhan virus:

Please Stop Using The Word Epicenter!

     Epicenter is a technical term from seismology. It refers to the point from which the temblors of a seismic disturbance appear to radiate. It is not a fancy synonym for center!

     Colloquially, epicenter is an approximate synonym for focus: the point on which attention concentrates in the course of an ongoing event. It would still be a distortion of the original meaning of the word, but not as bad a distortion as its use where center would be correct.

     You get no extra eloquence or erudition points for using a technical term incorrectly. Indeed, you lose them, with me and everyone else who believes words should be used according to their proper meanings.

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