so·​le·​cism | \ ˈsä-lə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce solecism (audio) , ˈsō- \

Definition of solecism

1 : an ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence also : a minor blunder in speech
2 : something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order
3 : a breach of etiquette or decorum

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Other Words from solecism

solecistic \ ˌsä-​lə-​ˈsi-​stik How to pronounce solecistic (audio) , ˌsō-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

The city of Soloi had a reputation for bad grammar. Located in Cilicia, an ancient coastal nation in Asia Minor, it was populated by Athenian colonists called soloikos (literally "inhabitant of Soloi"). According to historians, the colonists of Soloi allowed their native Athenian Greek to be corrupted and they fell to using words incorrectly. As a result, soloikos gained a new meaning: "speaking incorrectly." The Greeks used that sense as the basis of soloikismos, meaning "an ungrammatical combination of words." That root in turn gave rise to the Latin soloecismus, the direct ancestor of the English word solecism. Nowadays, solecism can refer to social blunders as well as sloppy syntax.

Examples of solecism in a Sentence

the solecism of asking one's hosts how much something in their house cost them
Recent Examples on the Web And a single word couldn’t be a dead giveaway either, no matter how much people would like to portray the use of pled rather than pleaded as an obvious Trumpian solecism, especially when Dowd himself has been documented using pled at least once. Ben Zimmer, The Atlantic, "Can Forensic Linguistics Pin Down the Author of a Trump Tweet?," 8 Dec. 2017 But the songwriter Tony Hatch has said he was inspired by Times Square—a solecism forgivable from a Brit. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Invention of the Downtown Art Scene," 13 Feb. 2017 Solecism slipped into solipsism into full-blown narcissistic projection. Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, "The Messaging of Trump Hotels," 26 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'solecism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of solecism

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for solecism

Latin soloecismus, from Greek soloikismos, from soloikos speaking incorrectly, literally, inhabitant of Soloi, from Soloi, city in ancient Cilicia where a substandard form of Attic was spoken

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Time Traveler for solecism

Time Traveler

The first known use of solecism was circa 1555

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Cite this Entry

“Solecism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for solecism


How to pronounce solecism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of solecism

: a mistake in speech or writing
: an impolite or improper way of behaving

More from Merriam-Webster on solecism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for solecism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with solecism

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