Friday, May 28, 2010

Words I Will Never Be Cozy With


Stanch is one of those words that's always on copy editors' radar. Like "founder" (to sink) vs. "flouder" (to flail), the stanch vs. staunch issue seems to make itself known to copy editors early in their careers. So I've been aware of the word "stanch" ever since I first started reading style guides.

Today stanch is all over the news, as BP execs talk about how they can stanch the oil leak. It's the perfect word for the job. But, at the same time, it's one of those words that seems unnatural somehow -- maybe because it doesn't seem to come up in everyday speech.

It's none too easy on the ears, either.

I guess that's why I'll never feel like I have a relationship with "stanch."

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Robert Link said...

Dangling prepositions notwithstanding, (perhaps better is "Words with which I will never be cozy"), you might enjoy the site, Hyptertext Webster. It usually gives at least two definitions, one from the 1913 Webster's dictionary, complete with root analyses, and one from the ultra-moder Wordnet lexicon from Princeton.

From that source:

Stanch \Stanch\ (st[.a]nch), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Stanched} (st[.a]ncht); p. pr. & vb. n. {Stanching}.] [OF. estanchier, F. ['e]tancher to stop a liquid from flowing; akin to Pr., Sp., & Pg. estancar, It. stancare to weary, LL. stancare, stagnare, to stanch, fr. L. stagnare to be or make stagnant. See {Stagnate}.] 1. To stop the flowing of, as blood; to check; also, to stop the flowing of blood from; as, to stanch a wound. [Written also {staunch}.] [1913 Webster](emphasis added)

June Casagrande said...

I haven't been to that site in a while. But this reminds me of the time when someone wrote to me to rail about how people use "rob" to mean "burglarize." Same deal: Look up the history and the lines that were blurry almost cease to exist.

And I never opt for a "with which" in the middle of a sentence when I feel the preposition at the end is more natural. It's just where I'm at.


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