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solecism - vocabulary

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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A nonstandard or ungrammatical usage, as in There’s lots of cars on the road.

A solecism can also refer to a social impropriety, especially in British English.

“This [feeding fruitcake to the royal corgis] is always regarded as an unforgivable solecism at the Palace, where only the Queen is permitted to augment her dogs' diets in this way,” says my man at the palace.

—Tim Walker "News-Mandrake-Black Looks" Sunday Telegraph, 10 Nov. 2002, at P38.

The word also has figurative senses in American English as well.

It is full of junk history, such as the rustic ideal of the country cottage, which he appears not to realize is an entirely modern idea; or the tiresome solecism, that everyone likes “Georgian” architecture, but that “speculative development” is necessarily bad.

—Boaz Ben Manasseh "Spirit and Place" Architectural Review 96 (Nov. 1, 2002)

Note: The single most prevalent solecism in America consists of using there is followed by a plural noun (see example above). You’ll find an extended discussion of there is and there are in’s section on Common Grammatical Mistakes. Click here for the beginning of that discussion.

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