Daily Archives:November 30th, 2022

Un mot juste

I came across a pleasing but unusual usage of a common English word today:

“Mother was urgent that the marriage should take place soon.”

This is a somewhat archaic but perfectly valid sentence. If somebody urges something, they are urgent about it, in the same way that someone who hesitates is hesitant.

But you’ll have to have a pretty good dictionary to find references to that usage; my Concise OED only hints at it, and you have to go to a more substantial version, such as the Shorter OED, to get an actual example of it being used that way.

I know that one of the reasons you read Status-Q is to appear more erudite at evening parties, so I thought you might wish to impress your friends by adopting this turn of phrase.

It came, by the way, from Agatha Christie’s autobiography, which I’ve long considered to be one of her best books. Recommended.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser