Explicative vs expletive?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by DDT, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. DDT

    DDT Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Italy - Italian
    Hi all :)

    During a recent conversation I used the term "explicative" when talking about an "explicative" phrase - I meant a phrase including an explanation. I was told that it means "including dirty words". So I checked in some dictionaries and found that the word closer to that meaning is "expletive". Since no dictionary includes all the different nuances I was wondering whether "explicative" has this"including dirty words" meaning or not

    Thanks in advance for answering :)

  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is no cross-over, no confusion, no sense of the expletive in explicative - as far as I understand both words.
    A check in the OED confirms that.
    It seems to me that someone has been confused by unfamiliarity and the somewhat similar sounds of the two words.
    I sincerely hope that I have explicated this effectively - with no sign of an expletive:)

    There was, I discovered, a time when an expletive was any meaningless word added to expand a sentence or to eke out a metrical line without adding to the sense. The word began to acquire the current common meaning about 200 years ago.

    I didn't know that:D
  3. maxiogee Banned

    No, Your interlocutor was wrong. The word "explicative" stems from the word "explicate", which means to analyze and develop (an idea) in detail, and you were using it correctly.

    An "expletive" is an oath or swear word and has a lovely etymology - it comes from the Latin for "to fill out", as it just fills out a sentence, withouty adding to its meaning.
  4. captain_rusty Senior Member

    Central France
    I think the confusion may come from the common use of "explicit" to mean "adult" content in a book or film, for example...
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Interesting possibility, Captain. Just imagine the explicit notice of the cover of the next edition of Fowler: Full frontal syntax!
  6. DDT

    DDT Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Italy - Italian
    Thanks everyone for such explicative...explanations :D


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