In a word: dilatory

January 15, 2014|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

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


This is your first word of the week since the end of December, which should explain the choice. 

The word (pronounced DIL-uh-toh-ree) means "slow to act." It is a direct steal from the Latin dilatorius, "delaying," which comes from dilator, "delayer," which in turn derives from the verb differre, "to defer." 

It's a word lawyers life to fling at one another. It is Latinate, and Latin is catnip to lawyers, who roll about in it. And it is sonorous and dignified, an excellent way to suggest that one's fellow learned counsel is lazy or incompetent without giving overt offense. 

Example: Rep. Tom Lantos: "The patience of the American public with dilatory diplomatic delays will be very limited." 

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