AskDefine | Define solecism

Dictionary Definition

solecism n : a socially awkward or tactless act [syn: faux pas, gaffe, slip, gaucherie]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the Greek Σολοικισμος (soloikismos); from Σολοικος (Soloikos), speaking incorrectly; from Σολοι (Soloi), an ancient Athenian colony in Cilicia whose inhabitants spoke a dialect that Athenians regarded as a corrupted and barbarous form of Attic.


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solecism (plural: solecisms)
  1. Error in the use of language, especially an error concerning etiquette.
  2. In written language, the intentional use of misspelling and/or incorrect grammar to affect the vernacular of a particular dialect.
  3. Any faux pas involving a transgression against the norms of expected behavior.


Extensive Definition

wikt solecism In prescriptive linguistics, a solecism is a grammatical mistake or absurdity. Some examples of usages often regarded as solecisms in standard English are:
  • "This is just between you and I" for "This is just between you and me." (hypercorrection to avoid the common, non-standard "you and me" form in the subject of sentences while "me" is, nonetheless, the standard pronoun for the object of a preposition.)
  • "He ain't going nowhere" for "He isn't [or he's not] going anywhere." (dialectic usage; see "ain't")
  • "Whom ate the food?" for "Who ate the food?" (hypercorrection resulting from the perception that "whom" is a formal version of "who")
  • "He's the person whom I believe is the fastest" for "He's the person who I believe is the fastest." (hypercorrection resulting from the perception that the relative pronoun is functioning as an object in the dependent clause when, in fact, it is a subject, with the predicate "is the fastest"; contrast "whom I believe to be the fastest," in which "whom" is the object of "I believe")
  • "Irregardless" for Regardless.
What is considered a solecism in one modality of a language may be acceptable usage in another. For example, "The world keeps turning for you and I" (10cc) is acceptable as a song lyric (see poetic license) but is considered a solecism in standard English. Rejecting convention in favor of consensus, modern descriptive linguistics generally dismisses the notion of solecisms, concentrating on how language is used, rather than how it ought to be used.
Note that a solecism is an error of syntax, while a barbarism is an error of morphology.
solecism in German: Solözismus
solecism in Modern Greek (1453-): Σολοικισμός
solecism in French: Solécisme
solecism in Italian: Solecismo
solecism in Polish: Solecyzm
solecism in Russian: Солецизм
solecism in Swedish: Solecism

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Irish bull, anachronism, anacoluthon, antiphrasis, argument, argument by analogy, argumentum ad baculum, argumentum ad captandum, argumentum ad hominem, bad case, barbarism, begging the question, bloomer, blooper, blunder, boner, boo-boo, boob, botch, breach, break, bull, bungle, catachresis, circular argument, claptrap, corruption, crowd-pleasing argument, empty words, error, fallacy, fault, faux pas, flub, fluff, folk etymology, formal fallacy, fumble, gaffe, gaucherie, grammatical error, hypercorrection, hyperform, hysteron proteron, impropriety, incongruity, inconsistency, indecorum, indiscretion, infelicity, insincere argument, lapse, logical fallacy, malaprop, malapropism, marrowsky, material fallacy, mere rhetoric, misconstruction, mispronunciation, missaying, mistake, misusage, moonshine, non sequitur, paralogism, petitio principii, philosophism, pseudosyllogism, slip, sophism, sophistry, spoonerism, stupidity, ungrammaticism, verbal fallacy, vernacularism, violation, vulgarism, weak point
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