Not exemplary

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Why is it exemplary and not examplary? Why is it example and not exemple? One definition of exemplary is:

serving as an illustration or EXAMPLE of something

I’m issuing an ultimatum to whoever gets to decide on the spelling of words: either change example to exemple or exemplary to examplary – OR – I get to take over on decisions on the spelling of words.

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9 Responses to “Not exemplary”

  1. Aaron Says:

    Random idiocy indeed.
    ;)

  2. Bill Walsh Says:

    ‘Cause exemplary and exemplify come directly from Latin exemplum, whereas example came through Old French and Middle English, getting its vowels jostled along the way. Example is the older English word, and the others are later direct Anglicizations from the Latin. So you’d have to pick whether antiquity or etymological purity was your guiding principle. I wouldn’t have thought it’d be a particularly difficult spelling issue, as the vowels sound pretty different—or do they not where you are?

  3. Kristin Says:

    The Normans invaded England in the 11th Century just to torment us linguistically. Isn’t that why William the Conqueror was also known as William the Bastard?

  4. Dave in Tucson Says:

    “It’s a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.”
    — Andrew Jackson

  5. awhayes Says:

    Um…wow, Bill if you just happened to know that, um…wow. Interesting though. What I find interesting re your description (and the brief etymological research I just attempted to do online) is that the root words appear to be different (exemplum for exemplary from Latin and essample for example from old French) but that the two have related meaning. I still propose the change for the sake of consistency, but perhaps the most appropriate compromise change would be essamplary?

  6. Ron La Canne Says:

    Remind me to never, ever critique Bill W. I am affraid.

  7. patrick Says:

    My head hurts

  8. Carolyn Says:

    Exemplary and example do not mean the same thing. “Example” is a specific item or story or person who amplifies a point being made. One could say – “Politician X is doing a piss poor job. For example, his office is never open and we can’t reach him.” Politician X is an example but he is not exemplary.

    On the other hand, if one were to say – “Politician X is wonderful. He always comes back to the community and lets us all know what is happening at the state capitol. Politician X is simply exemplary.”

  9. awhayes Says:

    Carolyn,

    You appear to have missed my point. I don’t contend that example and exemplary mean the same thing and I understand very well the meanings and uses of the two words. I do contend, however, that they are very similar in meaning and that the word “example” is even used in one definition of exemplary. I just think it would be less confusing if the two related words were spelled more consistently.

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