Why use the proper word when a fancy word will do?
I recently 'tweeted' a link to a story on Virginia cider and the apple varietals commonly grown and pressed for cider. Wrong, I was! I had used the word "varietals," when what I should have written was "varieties."
Merriam-Webster defines "varietal" as an adjective —" of, relating to, or characterizing a variety"— although it offers a secondary definition, first used in 1950, of a noun meaning " a wine bearing the name of the principal grape from which it is made."
A Twitter account that trolls Twitter searching for any incorrect usage of "varietal" discovered my error. (Yes, there is such a
@cizauskas "varietal" is a fine adjective. "Variety" and "cultivar" are nice nouns.— Cultivar Awareness (@cultivar_bot) November 17, 2012
I searched back through my blog and found that I had committed this egregious error on eighteen other occasions. Consider this my mea culpa. When I have the time, I'll
I'm literally red in the face. Well, figuratively.
- "Arneis" is a white wine grape variety originating from Piedmont, Italy. When @cultivar_bot tweeted
" "Variety" and "cultivar" arneis nouns,"
ithe probably had meant to say "...are nice nouns." We'll forgive him his trespass.
- I wonder: could a cider fermented from one apple variety be called a "varietal?"
- Related link: Food flummery.
- If you are a fellow grammar geek, consider 'following' Grammar Girl.
- For more from YFGF: