Sunday, November 3, 2019

Another delegitimatize

In Mississippi on Friday, Donald Trump stumbled onto the word delegitimatize, which appears in neither Merriam-Webster nor the Oxford English Dictionary, each of which has entries for legtimatize and delegitimize.

So what did I see last night in the November 4 New Yorker, in a Jelani Cobb commentary on Trump?

Observers pointed to the recklessness of his words and to the ways in which delegitimatizing the system might eventually culminate in unrest.
There’s no joke in Cobb’s use of delegitimatize: the magazine arrived in my mailbox before Trump’s Mississippi performance. The thought of Trump and The New Yorker being on the same page usage-wise is, as a wishy-washy observer of politics might say, “troubling.”

Google’s Ngram Viewer shows delegitimize far outpacing delegitimatize in 2008 (the most recent data). The ratio is 90:1. It seems fair to consider delegitimatize as, at best, a needlessly prolix variant, like, say, advisatory for advisory. Donald Trump wouldn’t care. But The New Yorker should.

A related post
New “words”

comments: 2

Slywy said...

"delegitmize" is missing an "i." Ever the proofreader . . .

Michael Leddy said...

Now corrected. Thanks, Diane.