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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2010-07-07 19:39:11

From: Winchester Massachusetts
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 674


Here’s the odious Joe Klein from this week’s edition of his column in Time magazine:

“There aren’t so many high-paying manufacturing jobs anymore; the relative security of government work doesn’t need to be augmented by ridiculously obstruse procedures for firing incompetents or by 20-year pension packages.”

‘Obstruse’ looks like a real word, but it’s only a portmanteau of’abstruse’ and ‘obscure’ – two words that happen to live in the same conceptual neighborhood. (And there’s an old post observing that the real word ‘obtuse’ sometimes gets used the same way:

More examples:

Engineering was one thing, but the arcane and obstruse language of international accounting was something else again.

This offering from Homi Bhaba is definitely in the running to win the grand prize for the most obstruse, deliberately arcane piece of academic prose ...

She’ll help you if you ask, but even when she helps the explanation seems obstruse.

Sometimes we’re seeing from the first person eyes of the spunky youngest girl; sometimes the poetic obstruse and otherworldly handicapped twin; ...

...especially as I was a not lawyer and so not able to advance more obstruse and complex technical legal arguments about these matters …

The obstruse terminology comes from Logic Programming, upon which GML is modeled.

Last edited by klakritz (2010-07-07 20:26:15)



#2 2010-07-07 21:20:55

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1581

Re: obstruse

“the most obstruse, deliberately arcane piece of academic prose” makes me wonder whether there’s not a third word in the mix, obstruct.



#3 2010-07-07 21:34:31

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2197

Re: obstruse

Obstruct has two rather striking obstruent clusters.

*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)



#4 2010-07-08 00:01:41

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2641

Re: obstruse

“Abstruse,” “obscure,” “obtuse,” “obstruct.” We might also add “abstract” to the list. These are two-syllable members of a big fuzzy spot. Anything is likely to take root in this fertile soil.

Besides Ken’s “obstruse,” there are also numerous examples on the web of “obscuse.” Example:

Newsgroup post on computers: “I’ve never seen the point in not using it, am I missing something for obscuse cases involving legacy hardware?”

There are also examples of “abstruct” and “abscure.”

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



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