Monday, September 5, 2022

A series of legal troubles?

Listening to NPR this long weekend, I heard, three or four times, that the defeated former president is facing “a series of legal troubles.” I began to wonder if series is the right word.

Merriam-Webster: “a number of things or events of the same class coming one after another in spatial or temporal succession.” M-W’s samples of usage: “the hall opened into a series of small rooms” (spatial succession), “a concert series” (temporal succession).

But the defeated former president’s legal troubles are all happening now. Imagine a concert series with all performances given simultaneously: that’s a contradiction in terms — though it might make for a great Ivesian effect if the doors to all concert rooms were to remain open.

I’d like to say a sea of legal troubles, but that would hardly be acceptable to NPR, and besides, I shudder at the thought of a metaphor that would point to taking up arms. A big fat mess of legal troubles? A diaperload of legal troubles? Perhaps just a number of legal troubles.

comments: 4

Pete said...

I was going to suggest “myriad”, but that seems like a vaguely positive term, and incongruent with troubles. Maybe “slew”?

Michael Leddy said...

I like “slew” too, though it might be a little colloquial for NPR. A “bevy”?

Stefan said...

I thought about suggesting "bevy," but when I looked it up in the OED, it didn't seem right:

1. The proper term for a company of maidens or ladies, of roes, of quails, or of larks.

2. transferred. A company of any kind; rarely, a collection of objects.

Michael Leddy said...

Yeah, I’m afraid “bevy” was a bit out there. Maybe “steaming platter”?