Broadcast(ed), critical critiques, and twigging

Every other Monday I have a new post at Macmillan Dictionary Blog. It’s several weeks since I reported on this, so here are excerpts from, and links to, the last three.

Broadcast(ed) and forecast(ed) considers the variation in past tense forms of these sometimes-irregular verbs, and what their users and usage authorities have to say about them:

Most people use the shorter, uninflected past-tense forms forecast and broadcast, just as we say an actor was cast in a role, not *casted. Forecasted and broadcasted surged in popularity in the first half of the 20th century, but they are now minority usages.

Forecast and broadcast arose by adding a prefix to cast, and so the argument goes that we shouldn’t say forecasted or broadcasted any more than we would say *casted. But people who choose them may be verbing the nouns forecast and broadcast, independent of the cast–cast–cast paradigm. This would give them more licence to add the –ed suffix. [Read on]


A critique of ‘criticism’ compares criticise and critique and their associated nouns – words with overlapping meanings but markedly different tones. I begin with criticise and criticism:

The two senses of these words – one judgemental and fault-finding, the other neutral and evaluative – exist side by side in modern English, though the balance is uneven. With set phrases like literary criticism and film criticism, the analytical sense is a given. But more often the word is used negatively (He can’t take criticism), and the same goes for criticise.

When we express an opinion, we usually want to avoid giving offence – and when we offer criticism, the chances of doing so are considerable. So language has many strategies for being polite. . . . Critique probably grew in popularity as a result of criticise gaining pejorative connotations. [Read on]


Finally, Can you twig it? looks at an informal word of uncertain origins, and examines the possibility of an Irish etymology:

At an early age in Ireland I learned the Irish word tuig, meaning ‘understand’, often used in common phrases like An dtuigeann tú? (‘Do you understand?’). You can hear several regional pronunciations of the word at the excellent Irish dictionary website Focló Comparing tuig with twig we find they sound alike and mean similar things. Of course, this could simply be coincidental – but the correspondence, while inconclusive, is certainly suggestive.

Terence Dolan’s Dictionary of Hiberno-English says this Irish derivation for twig is possible, while Loreto Todd’s Green English says it ‘may well’ be the origin. Bernard Share’s Slanguage is less convinced, indicating instead that the two words have been confused. [Read on]

The full archive of my posts for Macmillan is available here.

3 Responses to Broadcast(ed), critical critiques, and twigging

  1. Steve says:

    When I was an editor of academic texts I always changed broadcasted and forecasted to the shorter forms, because the longer ones just looked wrong to me. I’ve only ever seen them from people who spoke English as a second language.

    I am only just now beginning to get used to “critique” as a verb. If the author of a text I was editing thought “criticise” was too negative, I would suggest “evaluate” instead.

  2. wisewebwoman says:

    Your post triggered a question re the usage of the word “broadcast.” It is possibly only local usage here but the word is used to denigrate a type of shallow conversation where the recipient can’t get a word in edgewise and the other goes on and on and on about irrelevancies.
    “I’m not up to a visit to her today as I’ll just get a broadcast.”

  3. Stan says:

    Steve: Broadcasted and forecasted aren’t uncommon in edited texts, and several native English speakers told me they use them habitually, but they are in a bit of a grey area of acceptability. Some authorities further along the prescriptivist scale would reject them. Still, I’d need a better reason to edit them out of a text than that they look wrong; that’s too subjective a criterion for me. Evaluate is often a good alternative to criticise in its neutral sense.

    WWW: That’s an interesting use of it. I don’t think I’ve heard it used in quite that way, though I have heard it used in a slightly negative sense meaning ‘make something known more widely than someone wants’. For example, if I told you some news and you started to share it with others, I might jump in with: ‘I don’t want you to broadcast it.’ Macmillan Dictionary’s sense 2 captures this nicely.

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