Saturday, January 10, 2015

Learning | Excoriate

A recent online headline caught the attention of a few of us at the library. It referred to a professional baseball player being "excoriated" for training for a position he no longer plays.  Never mind the controversy about the player's motives for training; it just seemed like an unnecessarily big word for a sports story headline.
Excoriate. From Richard King's photostream on
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Excoriate comes from the Latin word excoriatus,  which in turn is derived from the prefix ex- (meaning out or from,) and the Latin word corium (meaning skin or hide.) Both excoriatus and excoriate mean to flay, or strip off the skin or hide. In the eighteenth century, the word started to be used figuratively, meaning to censure or denounce. 

So why didn't the news agency use a shorter word like censure or denounce? I don't  have a good answer for that. Journalists used to try to write news stories that could be read at a sixth grade level.  Perhaps that reporter and editor did not know about that practice, or didn't care.

A search for excoriate in our Shiny New catalog found no results. Instead, I'll leave you with a list of books about that controversial baseball player.

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