Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction.
  • n. A violation of etiquette.
  • n. An impropriety, mistake, or incongruity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Erroneous or improper usage; absurdity.
  • n. Error in the use of language.
  • n. In written language, the intentional use of misspelling and/or incorrect grammar to effect the vernacular of a particular dialect.
  • n. A faux pas or breach of etiquette; a transgression against the norms of expected behavior.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An impropriety or incongruity of language in the combination of words or parts of a sentence; esp., deviation from the idiom of a language or from the rules of syntax.
  • n. Any inconsistency, unfitness, absurdity, or impropriety, as in deeds or manners.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A gross deviation from the settled usages of grammar; a gross grammatical error, such as “I done it” for “I did it.”
  • n. Loosely, any small blunder in speech.
  • n. Any unfitness, absurdity, or impropriety, as in behavior; a violation of the conventional rules of society.
  • n. An incongruity; an inconsistency; that which is incongruous with the nature of things or with its surroundings; an unnatural phenomenon or product; a prodigy; a monster.
  • n. Synonyms Barbarism, etc. See impropriety.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a socially awkward or tactless act

Etymologies

Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikismos, from soloikizein, to speak incorrectly, from soloikos, speaking incorrectly, after Soloi (Soli), an Athenian colony in Cilicia where a dialect regarded as substandard was spoken.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Ancient Greek σολοικισμός (soloikismos), from σόλοικος (soloikos, "speaking incorrectly"), from Σόλοι (Soloi), an ancient Athenian colony in Cilicia whose inhabitants spoke a dialect that Athenians regarded as a corrupted and barbarous form of Attic Greek. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Analogously, in the non-criminal spheres the worst solecism is to be different.

    Stromata Blog:

  • Again, to use our old solecism, that is the lesser part of the truth; the greater part, for men of religion, is that Jesus is of God, that He belongs to Him.

    Preaching and Paganism

  • For what is called a solecism is nothing else than the putting of words together according to a different rule from that which those of our predecessors who spoke with any authority followed.

    On Christian Doctrine, in Four Books

  • You may see, it is true, an earth-worm in a robin's beak, and may hear a thrush breaking a snail's shell; but these little things are, as it were, passed by with a kind of twinkle for apology, as by a well-bred man who does openly some little solecism which is too slight for direct mention, and which a meaner man might hide or avoid.

    Essays

  • "SAT" a kind of solecism, one of those repetitive redundancies that repeats itself -- bad form for a test measuring verbal ability.

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  • A second-place tie between two teams that each have first-place trophies to dust - Root Learning Inc. and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library - resulted in a sudden-death runoff that ran to four words - "solecism," "jnana," diffa, and "issei," and Root hit pay dirt on

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  • To some, any kind of solecism at all is offensive; to others, who consider themselves liberated, the essence of language lies in communication, however that may be construed as devoid of grammatical stringencies; to us, although rudimentary communication may have its virtues born of necessity, an essential part of communication remains the style with which information is transferred and the appropriateness of the style.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol II No 4

  • "It was thought," says Nashe, in his Quaternio, "a kind of solecism, and to savour of effeminacy, for a young gentleman in the flourishing time of his age to creep into a coach, and to shroud himself from wind and weather: our great delight was to out-brave the blustering boreas upon a great horse; to arm and prepare ourselves to go with Mars and Bellona into the field was our sport and pastime; coaches and caroches we left unto them for whom they were first invented, for ladies and gentlemen, and decrepit age and impotent people."

    Bracebridge Hall

  • "It was thought," says Nashe, in his Quaternio, "a kind of solecism, and to savour of effeminacy, for a young gentleman in the flourishing time of his age to creep into a coach, and to shroud himself from wind and weather: our great delight was to outbrave the blustering Boreas upon a great horse; to arm and prepare ourselves to go with Mars and Bellona into the field, was our sport and pastime; coaches and caroches we left unto them for whom they were first invented, for ladies and gentlemen, and decrepit age and impotent people."

    Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists

  • Juan Williams, the veteran liberal news analyst of both America's public radio network NPR and, somewhat improbably, Fox News, committed the ultimate journalistic solecism last week by becoming the story, for all the wrong reasons.

    Juan Williams slipped up: he became the story

Comments

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  • from Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution

    March 6, 2011

  • Without thinking, I entered solecisms instead of solecism and got a, “first person to look . . .” page. At the last minute I realized this was a simple plural and dropped the “s.” Shouldn’t the first page have asked me, “do you mean . . .”?

    October 1, 2009

  • Citation on insouciance.

    June 28, 2008

  • a slip of the tongue or the pen or the keypad

    April 24, 2008

  • solecism is a breach of etiquette

    August 13, 2007