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Rosie Right

He wrote, "In your anniversary issue, you mention a distaste, as copy editor, for ... errors. I believe, though, I may have found a spelling error in almost your very next sentence — I could be wrong, or you may have done it intentionally. I think the word you used is fogey, not fogy. In fact, I even have a CD called "The Old Fogeys. … I realize that the e could have been added only for the plural…."

For one awful moment, Rosie was reminded of Shakespeare's famous line: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." How could she make such a mistake in such an important issue?

But fortunately, the current dictionaries list the word the way she spelled it, and our friend is correct in believing fogeys is the plural. Websters New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition backs him up on that point.

Fogy has a long history in our American language. H. L. Mencken reported in his American Language, Supplement Two, that it was included in Captain Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, which was first published in 1796. Mencken tells us: "Many of the other terms listed by Grose have survived to our day. Some still belong to slang or the lower levels of colloquial speech. … but others have climbed to more respectable standing." Fogy is listed among the newly respectable words.

Thank goodness Rosie can continue to be as she described herself: a fogy.

Talk the Talk

Ripperologists — people especially interested in who Jack the Ripper was. Source: The Nov. 11 New York Times article by Dinitia Smith about Patricia Cornwell's new book in which Cornwell claims to have definitively solved this mystery.

Eatertainment —"Dining as a form of entertainment, esp. in a restaurant offering elaborate attractions. ..." Source: Copy Editor News Letter, October-November 2002.

Let Rosie hear from you by mail, Style Weekly, 1707 Summit Ave, Richmond, Va. 23230; by phone, 358-0825; or by e-mail, repps@styleweekly.com

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