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Chris -- 2011-03-08

#1 2011-06-18 18:35:54

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2211

pillar << pillor

Many of us know about pillories, not because we are accustomed to seeing people publicly exhibited with entrapped hands and head, but because we know the English verb “pillory” (sometimes backformed to “pillor”), meaning to punish, to ridicule.

A number of us (see a few examples below) seem to be spelling “pillory” as “pillary.” Are we imaging stand-up stocks as pillars of punishment? Or are we thinking of a pillar as a place of public display? Perhaps we are invoking the public dimensions of the idiom “pillar of [strength/righteousness/society]?” Or is it, more simply, another testimony to our loss of spelling skills?

A confusion between “pillar” and “pillor” also lies behind etymological speculations about the idiom “from pillar to post.” See Michael Quinion’s analysis at World Wide Words.


Sports forum: “He did it, he was big enough to sort of admit it, he got punished for it so let him serve his time and let him get back playing, he doesn’t need pillarying for it. ”

Comment on a politics site: “If a GOP candidate had used language like this and then gloried in the victory, the Dems would be pillarying the candidate and the GOP for racism.”

Huffington Post comment:“ When the revolution comes, I hope he is pillaried in the public square.”

Facebook discussion site: “i really, really just want to pillar him”



#2 2012-06-23 19:25:36

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 971

Re: pillar << pillor

I know I’m going to be pillowed for that little comment!

Those pillows can hurt, too. Regrettably, I couldn’t find evidence that anyone is being pillowied at the moment.



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