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September 29, 2011

I am alerted by one of my correspondents – my nephew, in fact – to the case of the word ‘invariably’, which is striking out in a new direction. Apparently it’s now usually used to mean ‘usually’. I had not noticed this, but will be on the lookout from now on. Sightings of this new usage will be welcome. I suppose it’s part of a wider phenomenon that one might call the Exaggeration Ratchet – in the same way, ‘infinitely’ is now often used to mean ‘quite a lot’.

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  1. C. Robshaw permalink

    I (the nephew) approve; I was going to say about the Exaggeration Ratchet, but I wasn’t aware the term existed, & it was too difficult to put concisely enough for a Tweet. Anyway, thanks!

    • Ah, well, you see the term Exaggeration Ratchet didn’t exist, until I made it up on 29 September.

      • C. Robshaw permalink

        Yeah, I realised that on rereading your post, but you can’t edit comments once they’re up. Anyway it’s a good term; I’ll use it.

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