Tuesday, September 3, 2013

From the -wise world

Thinking they saw criminals, Beaver and Gilbert called the cops, pretending to be Ward Cleaver. But the criminals were only Lumpy Rutherford and a pal, masked for a costume party. Indignant Fred Rutherford calls the Cleaver residence to vent:

“Ward, this comes as quite a blow to me, friendship-wise.”

In 1962, that line would have struck an alert viewer as obviously funny, an acknowledgement of -wise on the rise. The Elements of Style mocked the suffix; Life mocked it; Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond mocked it.

And now? Garner’s Modern American Usage allows for useful neologisms (taxwise ) and playful constructions but cautions:

Generally, avoid -wise words or compounds when the suffix means “regarding” or some other frame of reference. They typically displace a more direct wording, and they’re invariably graceless and inelegant.
That’s wise -wise advice.

Related posts
“They’re opinion-wise”
-wise wise

[From the Leave It to Beaver episode “Beaver’s Long Night,” February 3, 1962.]

comments: 3

Elaine Fine said...

I guess we should be careful neologistic-wise, right?

Michael Leddy said...


Elaine Fine said...