Sep 222007

Lax means loose or careless.

Lackadaisical means listless or lazy.

There is some overlap here. If you sleep at your desk, for example, you could accurately be described as lax or lackadaisical.

But there is no such word as laxadaisical.

It’s really going to piss me off if all of you cretins spewing this abomination from your cakeholes do so often enough for it to become an accepted alternative.

This error particularly bothers me because lackadaisical is never a necessary word. It can liven when used correctly, but it carries neither denotative uniqueness, nor precision, nor any other characteristic compelling its use.

There are plenty of nifty words that succinctly express something that would otherwise require a phrase.  I’ve always loved the word juxtapose for its economy.  Onomatopoeia is another good example.  Neither word describes anything particularly difficult to understand, but you’re up to five or six words to say the same thing without using them.

Lackadaisical fails that test.  If you’re using it, it’s 100% discretionary.  You don’t need the word; you want the word.  That being the case, you certainly do sound ridiculous when you botch it.

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 Posted by at 4:23 pm

  5 Responses to “Digging in to defend “lackadaisical””

  1. “Cakeholes”?! That might be a minus five offense…

    Otherwise, I can’t say that I use either lax or lackadaisical very often. In such a situation I would be more inclined to say something really classy like, “…and if he/she would get off his/her lazy ass…”

  2. Oh, no – in this case, “cakeholes” is the EXACT right word to use. No demerits from me, Bo!

    It singularly pisses me off that a “word” can become a word just because enough people use it. I have students coming to my class who’ve been using abominable structures for years, just because everyone else is doing it, and it’s up to me to break them of their habits – but not before I spend (waste) too much time convincing them that they need to change that habit in the first place. “EVERYONE says this, Chili” they cry. Well, if EVERYONE jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you, too?

    Okay – five points off for THAT one, but you get my drift….

  3. Cakehole is a favorite. Wordhole, sasshole, or gerundhole also would have been acceptable.

  4. Lea: Cakehole may be marginal. Even if it’s -5, I think it’s funny enough to use.

    Chili: I mentioned that characteristic of the dictionary in another post several months ago. It dictates, but it also reflects.

    Our boys don’t get any slack on usage. Nathan just asked me “Has Aaron took a bath already?” That’s the kind of thing I don’t ever let get by. I tell him how it should be (“taked a bath,” of course) :), then he says it correctly, and we go on. Won’t be long before he’s inundated with mediocrity from his peers, and he’ll probably get some of that. But I know it will be all the worse if Lea and I aren’t diligent at home.

    Jeremy: I like gerundhole a lot!

    ‘Seester: I’m watching your boys right now. Good game.

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