« We must cultivate our garden | Main | On Bertrand Russell's Dangerous Idea »

November 21, 2006

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834516cc769e200d834c8155e53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Weasel Words:

Comments

Richard Mascall

I had come across the use of the phrase in two forms : (i) using ambiguity as a cloak for the possible real meaning (such as commenting on a clothes purchase by one's spouse by saying "Eye-catching !", and (ii) using officialese as the cloak (such as saying "the company considers it inappropriate to take such action."

I checked my copy of Brewer's and found that the person who made the phrase popular was Teddy Roosevelt back in 1916, in an attack on President Wilson. Roosevelt pointed out that Wilson'e phrase "voluntary universal training" was meaningless. Roosevelt in turn had apparently obtained the "weasel words" phrase from an article in the Century magazine of June 1900 which actually referred to a weasel sucking an egg to leave just the shell, as your text describes.

Nigel Warburton

Thanks very much for this. I agree that deliberate ambiguity and euphemistic or sometimes virtually meaningless officialese are two of the more usual manifestations of weasling...I have my doubts about the further sense I mentioned in my post - Weston's description of it as a kind of equivocation. I wonder whether this is a misuse of the term...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

My Photo

Get Virtual Philosopher by email...

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

My Podcasts

My Art and Photography Weblog

Philosophy: The Classics

Philosophy Bites

Ethics Bites