On “Deceptively”

On, Deceptively

Whilst perusing the archived articles over at Cracked.com, I came across this little gem about nine commonly misused words.  After dealing with such chestnuts as “irregardless” (no such word exists) and “ironic” (we can thank the Canadian chanteuse and noted Dave Coulier fellator Alanis Morissette for that one), the list concludes with “deceptively”.

The thing is, “deceptively” isn’t misused per se; it’s more that it carries around with it an inherent ambiguity that makes it a very tricky word.  When one says, for example, that “the pool is deceptively shallow”, the precise nature of this deception is not clear.  On the one hand, it could be that the pool appears deep, but is really shallow.  On the other hand, the shallowness could be the deception; the pool is, in actual fact, deeper than it appears to be.  Based upon the grammar of the sentence, it is impossible to determine which is the case.

It is therefore most fitting that this word, a bit of a Pharmakon if you ask me, should have such a Janus-like function.  Indeed, the signifier is every bit as beguiling as its deceptive signified; “deceptively” is deceptive.  Deceptively so.  While the American Heritage Dictionary advises against using it in such constructions so as to avoid confusion, I say let “deceptively” be its ambivalent(,) deceitful self.

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~ by Isaac Bickerstaff on May 13, 2009.

3 Responses to “On “Deceptively””

  1. “Canadian chanteuse and noted Dave Coulier fellator Alanis Morissette” – Is that her official title now? Awesome.

  2. I find it especially helpful that pictures of breasts are included to help highlight the dickishness of such corrections.
    …and Dave Coulier? really? Maybe you’ve mentioned this before but it’s still surprising. Not a dick I would be inspired to suck.
    Finally, I’m assuming that the lower the score, the lesser the asshole associated with that score is presumed to be. Danny Bonaduce is way more of a douche bag than Michael Moore!
    Et cetera? semicolon bracket

  3. Word on the street is that Dave Coulier — among other possible candidates — was the subject of Ms. Morrissette’s oral attentions as immortalized in the famous “theatre” reference in “You Oughtta Know”

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