The Law of Hifalutin Words.

An obscure law in the New York Times Styebook requires that reporters use at least one hifalutin word in every story. It’s the kind of word an average reader would ponder over and ask, “What the hell does that mean?” It is intended to indicate that the reporter passed college English 101. An example of the hifalutin law was in a Times story, published in the Boston Globe Oct. 28, 2020, under the headline, “Obama’s new gig: gleefully needling Trump.”

The story reports: “In 2016, Obama took his whacks at Trump on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Then he stepped up his criticism of his successor during the 2018 midterm elections. This summer, during the virtual Democratic convention, he offered a damning jeremiad against the president, warning that Trump’s reelection would ‘tear our democracy down’.”

OK, Biblical scholars and New York Times crossword puzzle devotees might know that jeremiad originates from the lamentations of Jeremiah in the Old Testement, and in plain English means pissin’ and moanin’ and bellyachin’ like holy hell, which, of course, are not hifautin enough for the prissy Times.

File under: Hifalutin at the Times.

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