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shameless pleading






Furthermore, inasmuch as….

Dear WD: Is “moreso” a word? I can’t find it in my dictionaries; my spell-checker doesn’t like it, but I’ve been reading and hearing it everywhere recently. Two examples from the one page of the sports section: ” … and he is confident the ’96 Braves, moreso than the ’72 Braves will embrace a teenager.” “Shrouded this time by closer Mark Wohlers’ franchise-record 31st save moreso than John Smoltz’s seamless season, ….” — R. Duvall.

Your spell checker is not alone. I not only don’t like “moreso,” I don’t understand why anyone would write that way. If you had supplied only one example, I’d have said that it was almost certainly a typographical error, but if “moreso” is truly suddenly commonplace, I am deeply alarmed. Mutant words seem to be springing up in the Sports Section.

I should call a time-out at this point and mention that I am absolutely, utterly sports-illiterate, and have never read the sports section of any newspaper. Ever. Really. True, I did manage the baseball, hockey and soccer teams in high school, but my duties in each case had only a marginal relationship to the particular sport per se. My primary duty to the soccer team, for instance, seemed to be to warn our coach if I spotted the Headmaster coming, so he would have time to put away his flask. My role in the grand scheme of the hockey team, on the other hand, consisted largely of driving newly-toothless players to the Emergency Room. I became awesomely proficient in filling out hospital forms and calming distraught parents.

But I digress. You say that you have been reading and hearing “moreso” everywhere. Hearing it doesn’t bother me — after all, “more so” (two words) is a perfectly respectable construction meaning “to a greater extent than.” Radio and television “sportscasters” slurring the two words together doesn’t surprise me. Sportswriters jamming “more” and “so” together into one word repeatedly in print, however, is a bad idea. What about its opposite construction, “less so”? Are we now to glop these together into “lesso”? Soon we’ll be facing “inorderto” and “inspiteof,” not to mention “nottomention.” Welcome to Mars. Somebody hand me that flask.

26 comments to Moreso

  • Sev

    Well said, “more-so or less-so”. . . .

  • Jared

    My English major agrees with you, while my linguistics minor must disagree. This is simply the evolution of language. There’s nothing wrong with it.

  • John

    Jared – as a fellow linguist, just because there’s no objective basis for declaring things “wrong” or “right” doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have an opinion. Tell ’em they’re wro- er, non-standard; if they don’t care or honestly prefer it that way they can keep on doing it, if they didn’t realise it was non-standard they can fix it. Any kind of evolution needs some kind of selection pressure to keep it in check…

    And as a casual wiki-editor, yes this is popping up everywhere and becoming a real pet peeve. ‘Alot’ I can understand, because it would slip through spellcheckers, but ‘moreso’?

    • admin

      “Tell ‘em they’re wro- er, non-standard; if they don’t care or honestly prefer it that way they can keep on doing it, if they didn’t realise it was non-standard they can fix it. Any kind of evolution needs some kind of selection pressure to keep it in check…”

      Awesome. I’m gonna practice saying “non-standard” in my Boris Karloff accent.

    • admin

      “Tell ‘em they’re wro- er, non-standard; if they don’t care or honestly prefer it that way they can keep on doing it, if they didn’t realise it was non-standard they can fix it. Any kind of evolution needs some kind of selection pressure to keep it in check…”

      Awesome. I’m gonna practice saying “non-standard” in my Boris Karloff accent.

  • James

    > Soon we’ll be facing “inorderto”

    How shocking! I expect that sooner or later, somebody will dare to contract a phrase like “be the cause” into the equally ugly “because”.

    Or “per cent” into the utterly insane “percent”. Or contract “to-day” into “today”.

    And then where would we be, eh? I quite agree: this disturbing trend must be nipped in the bud before chaos ensues every… where.

    • Clint

      My favorite response!!!

    • Lisa

      Haha, this is perfect. You make a very good point. Things like “alot” are not used by writers, but those who do not care. “Moreso” is something that was really thought over before written. The respondent sounds like one of those people who still try to get away with “to-day” and finds books from the 20s to have the most “proper” English.

    • James

      Actually changing per cent into percent makes perfect sense. Linguistically per cent sounds like talking about money. Eg: You get this many bits of flour per cent (for each cent you’re spending). Where we use percent very differently and for all kinds of things, what percentage of people coming are eating steak? Cents have nothing to do with this conversation. This is evolution and perfectly fine.

      On the other hand, your argument is flawed. You are basically saying that “because” we have changed words in the past we should continue to do so. This is flawed logic. We aren’t arguing whether this has happened previously, or even whether it should continue to happen in the future. More specifically, we are arguing whether this is one *of those cases* where it should happen; because sometimes, it shouldn’t.

      This is a common technique used by people to “win” arguments or debates. They make up a false standpoint for the opposing side, then “defeat” that standpoint, and pretend that suddenly that makes the opposing argument invalid. It is flawed logic, and has no place in an educated discussion.

      • Donald

        “You are basically saying that ‘because’ we have changed words in the past we should continue to do so.”

        I didn’t get that at all from his post. I think it was just a witty illustration that language always has and always will evolve and, at least for these types of contractions, this evolution is not detrimental or scary. It’s not about what “should” or “shouldn’t” happen, but what has happened before and will inevitably happen again.

        In other words, relax, it’s not a big deal.

        Also, dictating what has or hasn’t “place in an educated discussion” sounds strikingly arrogant and narrow-minded (and antithetical to constructive discourse). Other posts seem consistent with this interpretation. This effectively turns friendly and thoughtful dialogue into pointless debates. On that note, I don’t feed trolls, so if I don’t respond further you’ll know why.

        • Stephani Paige

          Donald, I enjoyed reading your comment, and agreed.

          Besides, moreso has been around for over a hundred years. It is not a word newly invented by sportswriters.

  • m.pease831

    In my opinion, this contraction is simply the evolution of language, and not an abomination to English. Trying to conserve what some woild call “proper academic English” would merely inhibit the progression of communication. If someone says a word to me in dialogue, and I understand the meaning of it, then that is to be considered effective communication. It seems to me, but its only a hunch, that the point of language is to provide a common medium for for communication. The attempts at conserving traditional academic English are the real abominations. They only limit creativity and expression. Plus, where would we be in language NEVER evolved? We wouldnt be talking, that’s where we’d be…

  • m.pease831

    Plus! Moreso is in the Bible; aka the best selling book ever written. BOOM. Get with the program, you’re about two millennia behind.

    • occams_blazer

      You…you do realize that they didn’t speak English two millenia ago, right? If you were being facetious, I applaud.

      But if you’re looking to a series of collected creative works written by farmers and tribesmen in the bronze age and then translated innumerable times as a source of linguistic insight for modern English words…BOOM. Egg on your screen.

      • James

        occams_blazer? o_o occams_razor? Is that you in disguise? I seem to run into your comments everywhere. And a good thing too. You spread reason as you go. Thankfully.

        Now for my two cents:

        The problem isn’t just with this. It’s with people being uneducated. The problem isn’t with language “evolving” the problem is with language *devolving*. Language evolving is when terms are created for new things, new ideas, new objects, new discoveries. But people just using the words incorrectly is devolution.

        Devolution occurs because some random idiot (or lazy non-idiot) thinks of a term or word and instead of looking it up, assumes he knows what it means. He then starts using it incorrectly. People then assume he knows what he’s talking about (especially since the majority of people are idiots) and they copy him. Next thing you know, the dictionary needs yet another update changing what a word means.

        For example:

        *Everyone* knows that celibacy means “to not have sex” right?

        Really? Think for a minute. Back when they wore chastity belts, they wore them for *one* purpose. To prevent them from having sex. Yet they used both the words chastity *and* celibacy during those times. Why wasn’t it called a celibacy belt? I’ll tell you.

        Chastity was to not have sex. To be pure of body.

        Celibacy was to be pure of mind and/or spirit.

        For example, a person could be raped, and still be celibate, because they were pure. Their *body* was no longer pure, but they *themselves* were pure. A lustful person, on the other hand, who imagines sex all the time but is a virgin could be chaste, but they were not celibate.

        Unfortunately the common man outnumbers the intelligent man. Even worse, the illiterate man outnumbered the literate man until recently even in first world countries! As late as the 60’s there were still huge amounts of the population that couldn’t read in America! These people used the terms so wrongly over time, and outnumbered everyone else so much, that their usage became the “proper” one.

        Why does this matter? Simple. We read things from long ago, (for example that Bible that is so popular) and we read their words but don’t know what they mean! The meaning of words have changed, but if the words in the bible didn’t, people now have no idea what the bible even says! Because it’s not the words that matter, but what those words *mean* that matters.

        Language is free to evolve. But devolving it, for the sake of the idiot masses, is a grave mistake.

        • Kam

          Here, Here! Well stated James, and perfectly conveys my sentiments, as well.

          The relentless assaults on the English language that online dictionaries and digital word games, etc. propagate are ruining the language. How can anyone convey a cogent thought, if the definition of words is nothing more than the imagined definition of the various listeners in the audience?

          With the advent of computers, it seems there is another avalanche of new words, and new meanings for existing words, every single year. Few, if any, add value, or clarity to the conversation.

          I’m in no way objecting to updating the language when it HELPS the clarity, or to encourage a more concise spelling of words (ie, “though” seems a bit much, when “tho” would actually do), but at this point, it seems every guttural utterance has a dictionary spelling and meaning – often multiple meanings, that add NOTHING to any conversation!

          Don’t even get me started on the complete bastardization of words. Gay means Happy, NOT homosexual, and it is only one of the MANY words that have been completely changed, seemingly by fiat, and with no resemblance whatsoever to the original meaning of the word.

          And now you can discuss “whatsoever”, as it seems to be on the same level as “moreso”, which is how I ended up on this page. I always thought it was one word, but the spell checker disliked it, so I wanted to be sure. Hmm, still not sure, but enjoyed the discussion. Thanks.

  • Geem

    Just for a thought…I wonder if its “use” or misuse might be vaguely linked to the word “whatsoever”? Since that’s pretty familiar and correct, people may be doing “moreso” by a sort of back-formation (is that spelled right, hyphen, one word, two words?)

    I guess I think that because I’m an “English major person” and I’ve often been a bit iffy about “moreso”…so I guess my theory here is really my own thought process.

  • Geem

    Oh, I hadn’t noticed the “furthermore” and “inasmuch” at the heading here…but still, I think “whatsoever” could be the closest link to “bad back-formation.”

  • DemonBorne

    Your definition of the phrase “more so” encompasses too much as the suboordinating conjunction “than” is external to the meaning you presuppose. Whatevs.

  • “What about its opposite construction, “less so”? Are we now to glop these together into “lesso”? Soon we’ll be facing “inorderto” and “inspiteof,” not to mention “nottomention.” Welcome to Mars. Somebody hand me that flask.”

    GASP! Imagine, a living language evolving. Now imagine if we were all still stuck with Old English…

    • James

      If we were all stuck with “Old English” it wouldn’t be a nightmare, because it would be just as normal to you and “New English” is. Therefore, your point is moot. Please make a logical argument when you speak.

  • J. D. Crutchfield

    The examples of moreso in the initial query are plain wrong: the writer in each case means simply, more; yet I would contend that there is a proper use for moreso. For example: “Smith’s conversion to fascism is regrettable, [not only for the obvious reason that nobody should be a fascist, but] the moreso because he was formerly one of the most eloquent critics of fascism.”

    If there is ever a justification for making a single word of a phrase (e.g., inasmuch, albeit, nowadays), I think it applies here.

    I suspect, however, that the phrase “all the moreso” (or, “all the more so”), which a search of the Web indicates is quite common, does not come under that justification, and is in fact an unnatural marriage between “all the more” (as in, “The refugees’ condition grew all the more desperate as winter came on.”) and “the moreso”, as illustrated above.

    Brent’s suggestion of 4 February 2013 ignores the process by which words of this sort are created. “Less so”, while a logical possibility, simply is not a common phrase. The other phrases he offers as future compounds are common enough, but, for reasons I have not successfully analyzed (and don’t have time to analyze before posting this), they don’t strike me as the sort of phrase that gets compounded.

    Incidentally, contra m.pease831, above, moreso does not appear in any current English translation of the Bible–at least if the search functions on and are to be relied upon.

    • James

      Finally, someone who uses logical argument and even *evidence* to support his statement! I applaud you good sir. You are a superior breed.

  • Sage

    I find these objections rather odd. I have used the word ‘moreso’ in writing since the 70s I believe. I looked it up on the web and everything on it seems to indicate that it is a new term…which I find rather confusing. As I said, I have seen and used this word, not daily by any means, but frequently enough that I am left scratching my head…saying to myself…this isn’t new, it’s been around for decades…am I the only one on the web who read books and wrote essays before there was an internet?

    • Kam

      No, you’re not alone Sage. I too have used this word in conversation, writing, and thought, for decades. I never doubted it was a single word until I just now wrote it in a letter, and the spell checker objected. It’s been around for my entire life, though admittedly, seldom used. : )

  • Iva

    Just to add another angle to this ancient, fascinating post: According to Google’s Ngram viewer, there were more recorded uses of the word ‘moreso’ in 1728 than in 1950. Of course, whether either century was correct in using it is another issue, I suppose. Perhaps linguists would prefer to devolve this word evolution back to an even earlier century…

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