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February 22, 2021


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If you look at the etymology of "pandemicide," it is made in the normal way. Pan+demos+cide means all+people+murder, or murder of all the people. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the word is labeled as an adjective and as a noun. As an adjective, its first meaning is "general, universal, widespread." The OED gives an example of this use from 1997: "Wood-oven pizzas and grilled everying are now pandemic." (J. Steingarten, The Man Who Ate Everything). Since the adjective has so often been used to describe a widespread disease, it has evolved into a a noun that in itself means widespread disease. The only problem, if it is one, is that it combines Greek and Latin roots, which is considered inelegant when one is making up words, but omnipopulocide seems even more inelegant to me.

"Pandemicide follows this new pattern,...."

It's a silly "pattern" and adds yet another item to the dung hill of unnecessary neologisms which serve nobody except those too lazy too find and use the correct word(s) and/or those who prefer cutesy to precise. Is "mass murder by means of pathogen" or something similar not sufficiently descriptive (and bone-chilling)?

Vasily: "Pandemicide" fits in a headline. "Mass murder by means of pathogen" doesn't. And Garrett isn't accusing Trump of releasing the virus; she's accusing him of allowing the pandemic to kill half a million Americans. Pandemicide.

I'm unpersuaded. There should be greater reason to invent an unneeded word than it "fits in a headline." Why not go all in and invent monstrosities like 'gunicide,' knifeicide,' 'poisonicide (one could even specify 'arsenicicide, cyanideicide, 'carbon-monoxideicide,' etc.), 'automobileicide'?

I'll concede that such a list of those non-words constitute a reductio ad absurdum, as "pandemicicide" does equally well

Vasily: I was being a little facetious with my "headline" comment, but its concision is one of the reasons "pandemicide" succeeds, in my opinion.

English is a flexible language. - cide words could already mean two things--the action of killing and the person doing the killing--before we came up with -cide words that mean "killing by means of X."

See also "shoeicide bomber" (earliest citation: 2002). https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shoeicide_bomber

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