Sep 6, 2008

Rapid Rhetoric: PECKSNIFFIAN

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

Pecksniffian (peck-SNIH-fee-uhn) adj. smugly hypocritical in benevolence; falsely moralistic.

This word is derived from a linguistic invention of Charles Dickens in his 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit. The character Seth Pecksniff is an especially despicable con artist whose principal source of income is fleecing would-be architectural students out of their money.

An interesting use of this adjective was generated by political blogger Digby in listing one of the reasons he wanted to see Barack Obama win the Democratic presidential nomination:
And it's this kind of thing that makes me want to see him win the nomination so he can make that Pecksniffian twit Peggy Noonan choke on her Pinot Grigio when he throws a hard, high fastball right between John McCain or Mitt Romney's eyes.
Ah, what wondrous prose flowed from the pen of Dickens, giving us all sorts of arcane literature-based references with which to skewer political figures.

1 comment:

microdot said...

An extraordinarily delicate yet ridiculous word to describe a scumbag. I can't wait to use it!