Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Words I'm Looking Up (One in an occasional, cleverly named series on words I'm looking up)

predominately

Came across this recently in my editing work. I was editing marketing copy, so I just assumed the writer made a mistake. I started to change it to "predominantly," but then stopped and looked it up.

predominate

to have ascendancy, authority, or dominating influence (over others); hold sway
to be dominant in amount, number, etc.; prevail; preponderate

Related forms:
predominately: adverb


In other words, predominately is a lot like predominantly.

I changed it anyway.

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3 comments:

Blackwell said...

Gack! This is not quite as bad as the "supposably" problem, but why, oh why is our language so confusing?

I looked at dictionary.com and the difference between the two words is subtle but distinct. I guess it would really depend on context, huh?

June Casagrande said...

I like "gack"!

I couldn't quite wrap my mind around the difference between the two words. I was too gobsmacked by the overlap (and that "predominately" existed at all).

It's so hard not to have a 'tude about "supposably" and "predominately." Yet these damn dictionaries never back me up.

Gack indeed.

Fran said...

It's eccentric practice IMO, to convert a verb (here predominate to an adverb with the "ly". It also lacks felicity, again, IMO. I would always strike it out in any text I was asked to edit.

I suspect the widespread usage likely to have arisen either from misapprehension of the speech of apparently literate others in the electronic media (I've heard this on the radio reasonably often) or as a consequence of laziness. cf: "particuly"; "inferstructure", "edjucation".

Some morphemes are easier to pronounce and the extra syllable doesn't really add much.

Twitter: @fran_b__

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