Linguistic curmudgeonly thought of the day

I miss the word “failure”. It was a fixture in the vernacular of my youth, by which I mean the social circles that I moved in as an undergraduate; the full phrase took the form “failure to X”, sometimes followed by “penalty card”. (The formula comes from a particularly aggravating card game that was designed to appeal specifically to geek of a certain stripe. Even today, I can not tell you its name… not because I don’t know it, but because to do so would land me with three penalty cards in quick succession, and who can afford to carry around all those extra cards these days?)

Today, of course, the use of “failure” is becoming deprecated as “FAIL” is taking on extra duties as a noun. While I appreciate the broader punning potential of the shorter word – I’m fond of “failboat”, for instance – I miss the comparative prolixity of the original.

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