Words: massive, adj.

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
EDMUND WILSON was riled 36 years ago by being described with the triple cliche "a massive, Johnsonian `father-figure' " and noted "all the sentences in which massive occurred; but I found that it was now used so often that this involved too much trouble, and I presently gave up".

It is quite simple. Dumplings - especially at school - are massive; meringues, however big, are not. From French which derives, via Latin, from the Greek for barley-cake, it is a word whose nuance is lost when every two-bit hit record is called massive. Not in the OED is Wilson's note that the misuse became widespread after FDR's death was correctly described, with the technical term for a continuous section of diseased tissue, as a "massive cerebral haemorrhage".

Comments