Saturday, April 4, 2009


elide [ĭ-LIDE]
v. to omit; ignore; pass over

[From Latin elidere ("strike out") from e- ("out") + -lidere ("to strike")]

Elide is normally used in three different ways. One is simply as a synonym for ignore or omit.

In Jonathan Rauch's review of Robert Reich's memoir of his years in the Clinton Administration, Locked in the Cabinet (1997), Rauch chides Reich for mixing fact and fiction, for using quote marks around words he attributes to others that may or may not have been spoken. Rauch accuses Reich of ignoring the difference between what happened and what did not:
Reich is saying that he's not writing journalism or history. He's writing ... well, what? He elides the very distinction between history and myth, memoir and novel, reality and perception. The problem is that those are real people he misquotes, real history he rewrites.

A second way elide is commonly used is to mean strike out or cross out.

In G20 Summit: an easy guide to judge its success or failure, The Daily Telegraph of London suggests that the heads of state at the meeting will serve the function of editors, not authors:
The concluding announcements from big summits are usually drafted weeks, if not months, in advance by the teams of "sherpas", who advise the ministers and heads of state. The most the G20 can hope to achieve in today's four and a half hours of meetings is to elide a few phrases here or add a couple of numbers there.

The third way elide is used is with pronunciation. When a person says "I'm comin'" instead of "I'm coming" he has elided the g-sound. This process, called elision, can be with a vowel, a consonant or an entire syllable. Some instances of elision are more common than the complete pronunciation of a word. Most people don't pronounce vegetable as VEJ-uh-tuh-bull; they say VEJ-tuh-bull. The omission of the second syllable is an instance of elision. Note, however, that contractions, like can't, are not considered elisions. They started out as elisions, became accepted, and now are considered set forms.

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