D. Herbert

Monday, August 01, 2005

Defining Draconian Down

Pedantic Word Excercise #2

The S.F. Chron. shows poor judgment when it includes this in a straight news article:
But the rush to Israel has many Muslim groups concerned that U.S. law enforcement agents will begin using draconian measures, including religious and ethnic profiling.
Draconian is defined by Dictionary.com to mean:
Exceedingly harsh; very severe
Ethnic profiling might not be pleasant, but how is it "exceedingly harsh" or "very severe"? Using perjorative words like that to describe American and Israeli law enforcement measures is fine--on the editorial page. Not in the news pages. It would be nice if the Chron would separate the two.

From Thesaurus.com, here is the complete list of synonyms for "Draconian":


  1. acrimonious
  2. acute
  3. authoritarian
  4. austere
  5. binding
  6. brick wall
  7. callous
  8. compelling
  9. confining
  10. convincing
  11. cruel
  12. dead set
  13. demanding
  14. disciplinary
  15. dour
  16. drastic
  17. drawing
  18. exacting
  19. extreme
  20. firm
  21. forbidding
  22. forceful
  23. grim
  24. hard
  25. hard-boiled
  26. hard-nosed
  27. harsh
  28. in line
  29. intemperate
  30. intense
  31. iron-fisted
  32. keen
  33. merciless
  34. no-nonsense
  35. oppressive
  36. persnickety
  37. picky
  38. pitiless
  39. poignant
  40. powerful
  41. prudish
  42. punctilious
  43. puritanical
  44. rigid
  45. rigorous
  46. rough
  47. ruthless
  48. savage
  49. scrupulous
  50. set
  51. severe
  52. sharp
  53. square
  54. stern
  55. stickler
  56. stiff
  57. staight
  58. strait-laced
  59. strict
  60. stringent
  61. stuffy
  62. tight
  63. tough
  64. tyrannical
  65. unfeeling
  66. unkind
  67. unmerciful
  68. unpermissive
  69. unsparing
  70. uptight
  71. valid
That's what I mean by "perjorative." The word has intensely negative connotations.

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