By ANNE DONNELL
I don’t think people, particularly “media people,” are distinguishing “opportunistic” from “opportune.” I hope this doesn’t seem too arcane for your column. Please comment on the matter. Thank you.
-Sign Me “Local Logophile”
My idea of a helpful note #1. “Arcane” means obscure or inscrutable.
My idea of a helpful note #2. “Logophile” means lover of words.
Oh, the cleverness of us humans, often a tucked-in-unexpected-places matter.
My idea of a helpful note #3. It’s “of us humans” because the objective case is needed (object of preposition). It would be “we humans” when the nominative case is used, as in “We humans have a lot to explain.”
TO CONTINUE THIS IDEA OF CLEVERNESS IN HUMANS, UNINTERRUPTED BY ME AND MY HELPFUL MOOD WHICH USUALLY FADES FAST ANYWAY, a recent Monday I was spending (wasting?) time online in Pawnation, watching a video on dog “outfits,” when someone accompanying a dog dressed in camouflage said, “She’s indognito.” That’s clever, right? Along this line: ONLINE DEPARTMENT, “Word Fun” (Thanks, B.F.) • Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery. • A pessimist's blood type is always b-negative. • Practice safe eating - always use condiments. • A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother. • Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death. • He used to work in a blanket factory, but it folded. • A hangover is the wrath of grapes. • Corduroy pillows are making headlines. • Is a book on voyeurism a peeping tome? • Sea captains don't like crew cuts. • Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? • A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter. • A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumor. • Without geometry, life is pointless. • When you dream in color, it's a pigment of your imagination. • Reading while sunbathing makes you well-red. • A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking. • Dijon vu - the same mustard as before. • When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I. • A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two-tired. • A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion. • If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed. • When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds. • The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered. • You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it. • He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key. • Every calendar's days are numbered. • A lot of money is tainted. 'Taint yours and it taint mine. • A boiled egg is hard to beat. • He had a photographic memory that was never developed. • Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall. • Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine. • When an actress saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye. • Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis. • Acupuncture is a jab well done. ONLINE PART 2 (Thanks, S.C.) Letter sent to teacher about first grade child’s drawing, “When I Grow Up I Want to be Just Like Mommy.” Dear Ms. Davis, I want to be very clear on my child's illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a snow shovel. So, who’s the clever one here?
Here’s the difference between opportunistic and opportune. My expert is Bryan A. Garner, attorney, logophile, author, and awarder of Gobblygook Awards, given annually “for particularly bad prose, especially examples originating in state and local governments.” That should be a thick forest of opportunities. If you’ve an entrant in mind send it to firstname.lastname@example.org Opportune is an adjective clearly tied to opportunity. Opportune means suitable or convenient, occurring at an appropriate time. Opportune circumstances offer opportunity.
Opportunistic is an adjective with clear moral overtones. Opportunistic means exploiting circumstances, taking advantage of people and showing little feeling for the consequences suffered by others.
We have heard commentators on radio and television saying something like this, “It came at an opportunistic time for the family of the injured player…” That should be “opportune time.” Opportunistic with its negative connotation is less frequently needed, unless it presidential election year.
My idea of a helpful note #4. Rest up; next presidential election year is 2012.
BW (Bigtime Word) bosky – woody countryside, covered in shrubs. Metaphorically this could be an area rich in candidates for the Gobblygook Awards.