Thursday, December 29, 2011

Recreational and recreative reading

From Bryan Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day:

“Recreational” is the standard adjective corresponding to the noun “recreation”; it’s about 1,000 times as common as its synonym “recreative,” a needless variant. But “recreative” is genuinely useful in the sense “tending to re-create” — e.g.: “The paradoxically destructive and recreative force of the mythical flood seemed as real to Friday’s performers as it must have to the composer.” Timothy Pfaff, “Innocence of Children Survives ‘Noah’s Flood,’” S.F. Examiner, 24 June 1995, at C1.
I remember some years ago hearing of a college administrator who characterized English studies as “recreative reading.” It seems appropriate that he chose the needless variant. Dumb and dumberer.

Bryan Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage (Oxford University Press, 2009), offers a free Usage Tip of the Day. You can sign up at Orange Crate Art is a Garner-friendly site.

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