Mighty Red Pen

January 29, 2011

Erstwhile, back at the ranch

Filed under: Uncategorized — mighty red pen @ 3:12 pm

From the Department of Redundancy Department comes this little tidbit from a review of the latest book from poet Charles Simic:

Okay, so here’s the deal. According to Merriam Webster, erstwhile means “in the past, formerly,” so it’s not necessary to say someone is the former and erstwhile U.S. poet laureate.

Unless, I guess, you mean they used to be the former poet laureate and now they’re not the former poet laureate anymore because they’re the poet laureate again. It could happen.


1 Comment »

  1. A surprisingly large number of people believe “erstwhile” means “esteemed.” I suspect that was the case here.

    See my post on erstwhile/esteemed: http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2008/05/penultimate-rev-1.html

    Comment by Fritinancy — January 29, 2011 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

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