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A few folks—myself regrettably included—excoriated Drew Barrymore for misusing the word excoriate on The Late Show with David Letterman, 020040308, when in fact her usage was a good deal more fluent and cool than mere excoriation as usually employed by journalists and other fancy-pants, reflex-driven page-fillers. Damn. To excoriate, it turns out, means “to tear or wear off the skin of; abrade”; Drew said talking about some things “excoriated the meaning” from them; it tears the skin off them, it makes them weaker. That’s perfect usage, better than any mere synonym for “pouring scorn on,” the ordinary journalist’s usage—“Captain Knucklehead excoriated the present administration for its attempted shmuh”—by a fair distance. Sorry, Drew. (And hey, Harry, you oughta apologize, too.)

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