Sunday, 6 January 2013


Argument, Dispute, Verbal
This is an altercation ...


Noun. Late Middle English. 
[Old & modern French, from Latin altercari wrangle] 

1(a) The action of disputing vehemently or angrily. LME

1(b) The conduct of a legal case by question and answer. L18

2 A vehement or angry dispute; a noisy controversy. LME

I try not to get too worked up over the misuse of words in English, but the misuse of altercation really winds me up, mainly because you see it misused by so many journalists, writers, and others that should know better! No one ever gets hurt in an altercation; blows are not traded. Therefore, if you read something along the lines of "The court heard how Mr Travers was punched repeatedly during the violent altercation," you should feel entitled to share my ire with me. 

(of course, I've been venting my anger towards this for so long that it's quite possible that the dictionary writers, aghast at the determined and persistent misuse of altercation by the supposed wordsmiths out there, have given up and conceded it now has an adjusted mean) 

... and this is not

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