usingtherightwords

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Is That Your “Definitive” Answer? Are You “Definite”?


I rarely watched “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” But the catchphrase Regis Philbin uttered reached just about anyone with a pulse: Is that your final answer?

I rarely missed “Match Game 73/74/75/76/77/78/79 (pick a year)” and I regularly heard Gene Rayburn refer to an answer as “the definitive” one.

Who knew these two game show hosts uttered synonymous words all those years apart, even after Rayburn had died?

OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but bear with me. People sometimes misuse definitive when they mean definite, and vice versa. According to thesaurus.com, definite means “precise and unmistakable” and “clear and sharply delineated.” Definitive  means “final and conclusive,” and  “complete and ultimate.”

So, a “Millionaire” contestant could be definite that he/she gave the definitive answer to the question. Thesaurus.com adds that a definitive example is a perfect example, so the definitive answer would be a perfect answer because it was correct, and a contestant could definitely be sure of that.

On “Match Game,” that definitive answer was perfect only if all six celebrities matched. Leave it to Brett Somers to miss the point.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

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November 14, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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