Requiem for a Word Contest

March 15, 2007

Earlier this week, I produced the first of what would become two-too-many long word of the day columns. I attribute my column’s failure to resonate not to my disconnect from the Zeitgeist (as nothing could be untruthier), but the unforeseen eruption of some sort of scurvy or gout epidemic. Thankfully, Elm City was spared and Jen only escaped alone to tell her answer (Bonus contest: who can name the most literary allusions in the last sentence? Double Bonus contest: to which did I actually allude?). Although, perhaps not all of Elm City was spared, as at least one denizen has departed America for safer pastures. Jen, being president of a temperance society, drinks only the tepid tears of Orphans, and managed to keep her wits about her to write a response to the great Advertiser mystery (ok, I gave away today’s contests).

As you may remember, I suggested that, strictly speaking, “advertiser” should have been “advertisist” and asked our loyal readership for a response. Well, here’s my theory, and I have absolutely no clue if this is correct. Advertise was historically used interchangeably with the now semi-obsolete verb “advert.” One who adverts would have been styled an “adverter” and this was probably carried over to make advertiser. While the words were originally synonyms, advert has survived as its own word, meaning “to turn one’s attention to,” deriving from the old French avertir. the Modern French avertir has the sense of calling someone else’s attention, more similar to our advertise. But enough of this blubbering, let’s go a-whaling!

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