In search of the right word


Sir, – Shane Hegarty, in “Hatchet jobs: the art of the good bad review” (Weekend Review, February 16th 17th), literally takes the shine off the word “coruscate”. He tells us that as Arts Editor of The Irish Times he has lost count of the number of times a press officer has pleaded for a review on the basis that it would be really important to the artist/ musician/director. “The possibility of being coruscated,” he writes, “is preferable to the horror of being ignored”.

This is unlikely, since the verb “coruscate” derives from the Latin coruscare, meaning to sparkle or flash (in addition, it is an intransitive verb, which means that nothing can “be coruscated”.)

Oh well; even our political leaders sometimes get the meaning of words wrong. When Minister of State Kathleen Lynch promised a “fulsome” apology to the Magdalene laundries survivors, it was pointed out on this page that the word “fulsome” means excessive, cloying and insincere. None-deterred we find yet another Labour Minister of State, Seán Sherlock promising “fulsome” apologies to the survivors on RTÉ Radio (RTÉ Radio 1 Saturday with Claire Byrne, February 16th).

So, having being ignored by government for decades, the Magdalene women may now expect “disgustingly excessive” (Associated Press Style Guide) attention from our Government. – Yours, etc,


Adelaide Street,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.