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Saturday, April 09, 2016

Time to ban a word: "Confusing."

Not entirely, of course--but its misuse. 

Frequently, people will describe something as "confusing" when it is really something else.

The word they are actually looking for is "discordant."

Let the wordsmiths at the Oxford Dictionary help us out:
1 Disagreeing or incongruous:
          the principle of meritocracy is discordant with claims of inherited worth

          1.1 Characterized by quarreling and conflict:
a study of children in discordant homes
2 (Of sounds) harsh and jarring because of a lack of harmony:
bombs, guns, and engines mingled in discordant sound
strike a discordant note
Appear strange and out of place:
         the chair’s modernity struck a discordant note in a room full of eighteenth-century           furniture

Put another way: when someone insists on inserting surprise heavy-metal guitar solos into Mozart concerts or extended vuvuzela blats into stagings of kabuki theatre, it is not "confusing," it is discordant

Claiming to such is "confusing"--especially when it happens over and over again and loses any element of surprise--is suggestive of a closed-head injury.


  1. I find Tchaikovsky's use of canons in the 1812 overture to be neither discordant nor confusing.

  2. Funny you should mention a closed head injury because I am truly in danger of inflicting one on myself every time I read the latest words of Pope Francis.