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BARBARISM. A non-technical term for a WORD considered to offend against good taste by combining elements from different languages, especially classical with vernacular, or being used in an unsatisfactory way. The following words were widely considered to be barbarisms when first used: escalate, back-formed from escalator; finalize, GREEK -ize added to LATIN final; mob a clipping of Latin mobile vulgus; television a HYBRID of Greek tele- and Latin vision. In Modern English Usage, FOWLER pointed to two problems: one might lack the information to decide whether an item is a barbarism or not; even if a philologist were consulted and a barbarism identified, people would not necessarily stop using it. In present-day usage, despite Fowler's strictures, concern for classical and linguistic purity is minimal and the coining of etymological hybrids is casual and massive. See CLASSICAL COMPOUND, CORRECT, SOLECISM, THEMATIC VOWEL.

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bar·ba·rism / ˈbärbəˌrizəm/ • n. 1. absence of culture and civilization: the collapse of civilization and the return to barbarism. 2. extreme cruelty or brutality: she called the execution an act of barbarism barbarisms from the country's past.