Wednesday, April 22, 2009

word of the day

The word of the day is "boilerplate."

I subscribe to Merriam-Webster's word of the day email service, basically because it supplied me with wordplay fodder. I haven't done much with it for a while, for a number of reasons.

Beyond that, the service is pretty much useless. I don't mean that I already know what "boilerplate" means, so I don't need the M-W people to tell me it means a standard text that you repeat. I mean that the definitions and sample usage sentences they come up with are frequently so twisted as to render the word of the day unintelligible.

("Tartlets? Tartlets? Tartlets? No, the word's lost all meaning.")

Today, f'rinstance, the derivation of "boilerplate" included this gem:

In the days before computers, small, local newspapers around the U.S. relied heavily on feature stories, editorials, and other printed material supplied by large publishing syndicates.

(It goes on to tell us that the material was supplied on "boilerplates." In case you were wondering.)

Of course, this practice is no longer followed, now that there are computers. Nowadays, local newspapers consist of almost nothing but material supplied by large publishing syndicates. Just read the Modesto Bee some day. Better yet, don't.

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