usingtherightwords

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All in Agreeance, Ignore This


I joined a new networking group the other day. Before being voted in by the members, the group took care of its business and had to vote on some items. Once someone made a motion, the member in charge called for the vote thusly: “All in agreeance, say ‘Aye.’ ”

I had two to five minutes to talk about what I do and what I can do for the group. I mentioned the various types of writing and editing I can do, and I stressed that when I’m hired, I’ll ensure that grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax and tense will be correct. Then I promised that I’ll use words that are most effective in getting one’s story or message across to the target audience or demographic. And I’ll use real words, too, unlike agreeance. The correct word is agreement.

After I pointed out the error, they still voted me in. But while I waited outside for the vote to be completed, I checked dictionary.com to see if agreeance was a word — and there it was. But its definition was, “agreement.” It also said the word was now rarely used and gave what it called a “word story” about how the word traces back to 16th century and was most popular in the 18th-19th centuries before falling into disuse.

The note continued, “(M)odern writers who recoin the term seem to like how it sounds, even though it adds nothing in meaning to its workhorse counterpart, agreement. … So while there is no rule preventing the formation agree  + -ance,  the coinage may sound quaint or pretentious to some people.”

Dictionary.com, it should be mentioned, is based on the Random House dictionary. I checked agreeance in my Merriam-Webster dictionary and didn’t find an entry. Neither did I find one in the Cambridge dictionary or in the Oxford dictionary, which calls itself “the definitive record of the English language.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

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December 17, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The word agreeance is commonly used in New Zealand and Australia although appears to have dropped out of popular use in America. I live in New Zealand so discovered this fact when my spellcheck kept underlining the word agreeance (interestingly the suggested replacement is “grievance”). Guess I should change my spellchecker from American to English…

    Comment by Meg | January 13, 2014 | Reply


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