In a word: animadversion

May 30, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


Brace yourself if something you have written prompts animadversions.

Animadversion (pronounced an-uh-mad-VER-zhun) is formal criticism or censure; animadversions are critical comments or remarks. To animadvert is to produce such criticism. It was originally a legal term for judicial taking notice of offenses and inflicting punishment, but it was too handy, given our bent for critical remarks, to remain exclusively within the law.

We have the word from the late Latin animadvertere, from animus, "mind" and advertere, "turn toward."

Example: From Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy: "He hath done more worthy of dispraise and animadversion, then worthy of commendation."

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