Sunday, November 13, 2005

Modern Rhetoric

An expression that has long annoyed me is "one-dimensional." It's an obvious intensifier of "two-dimensional," but I don't think it a very good one. "Two-dimensional" makes sense, conveying flatness and cartoon unreality. Subtracting a dimension for emphasis is essentially witless; one might as well trump the lot by saying "no-dimensional."

Yet everyone says it.

I'm not going to set up shop here as a language grouse, an unlovely breed associated with aging crabbiness and reactionary resentment. But not every figurative expression that catches on deserves to.