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"Professor Hogben... is unwilling to look 'egregious' up in the dictionary and see what it means."
George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"

People keep using the word "egregious", which does not mean what they often think it means. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

  • e·gre·gious ( \i-ˈgrē-jəs\ IPA: /ɪˈɡriː.dʒəs/ or /əˈɡriː.dʒi.əs/)[1] adj. 1 archaic : distinguished 2 : conspicuous; especially : conspicuously bad : flagrant <egregious errors>. Latin egregius, from e- + greg-, grex herd
    • e·gre·gious·ly adverb
    • e·gre·gious·ness noun

You'll see this word used often on This Very Wiki. Repeatedly used, you could even say (and egregiously at that). It's almost as if people are looking for reasons to put it in, as if it were the trigger for some kind of pleasurable behavior. The word itself has become a somewhat Discredited Meme, as more instances of its use are linked to this page than not. Now drink up!

Of course, the real reason is that people want to look learned on this site. [2] So, instead of saying "This series is a particularly bad example in that...", you get "This series is particularly egregious in..." Alternatively, it's a way of Getting Crap Past the Radar -- since calling a show "badly written" might spark an Edit War, they use a word that is, strictly speaking, neutral, but has inescapable negative connotations.

A much less used word that seems to be the target of much egregious grasping is "gregarious", which means "social" or "sociable". If someone's talking about an "egregious person", this is what they were going for (unless they just don't like the guy). Oh, and "egregarious" is not the Internet equivalent of being sociable, it's not a word at all, despite what some people seem to think.


 Waldorf: People sure seem to like the word "egregious".

Statler: That's because it describes them!

Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

Notes

  1. eh-gree-jous or -ji-ous (as in "disagree" and "just" minus "t")
  2. Alternatively, it's just [a really fun word to say. Go ahead, try it!

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