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Word Wonks' Corner


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To the editors:

In the "Stop This Word" item in his December 25 Hot Type column, Michael Miner pleads for the retirement of the word "wonk," calling it a "term that was fresh when the New Republic began using it months ago to describe Clinton Democrats and has now leached into the mass media and become a cliche."

Actually, Miner arrives at the cliche party about five months late. Word maven William Safire noted the ubiquity of the W word, as in "policy wonk," in his July 26 New York Times Magazine language column and traced its current usage to a 1984 article in the New Republic by Sidney Blumenthal.

Jack Shafer

Washington City Paper

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