Working intermittently on a big old elaborate post which is taking a while to fruiten.
In the interim I’m slapping together, as per usual in such circumstances, another episode of the old blog standby, the word usage and grammar philippic. This one’s rather brief, but I hope it will abate any withdrawal symptoms you may be experiencing, Dear Reader(s).
- guesstimate. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an estimate usually made without adequate information.” The Oxford English Dictionary says it’s “an estimate which is based on both guesswork and reasoning.” Listen, something is either a guess or it’s an estimate! You can have a well-informed guess or a poor estimate, but the former is still a guess and the latter is still an estimate. These species do not commingle. No viable offspring here. Incidentally, I was amazed to find out how long this misbegotten creature’s been around; M-W says 1923, while the OED cites a 1936 New York Times article. The OED is incorrect, however. I searched the Times’ website and the oldest citation there is:
‘GUESSTIMATE’ APPRAISAL.; Realtor Coins New Word to Express Careless Methods. [May 6, 1928, Sunday · Section: Classified Ad, Page 197, 135 words]
Sorry, I can’t tell you any more about it because I wasn’t going to pay $3.95 to see the rest.