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Eschew eschew?[edit]

Some writers do not like eschew, finding it unclear or over-formal and preferring avoid, but it is widely accepted, AFAICT. For reference, some examples of criticism of eschew:

  • eschew obfuscation
    Intended ironically, implying that “eschew” is less clear than “avoid”.
  • eschew: No one actually says this word in real life. It appears almost exclusively in writing when the perp is stretching for a flashy synonym for avoid or reject or shun.
Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing, Bob Harris, deputy editor of the New York Times Book Review
14. Eschew surplusage.
…where “eschew” may be meant humorously, or seriously (“surplusage” is presumably humorous); compare:
18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.

Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 22:21, 16 December 2008 (UTC)


Notes and pronunciations suggested in works I didn't consider reliable enough to cite:

  • Charles Harrington Elster (in The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations) "prescribe[s]" (his word, which he contrasts with "describe") "es-CHOO"
  • (warning! nesting ahead!) Elster also quotes Sietsema, the Merriam-Webster editor responsible for that dictionary's pronunciations, as writing "we include [the pronunciations /ɛ.ˈʃu/ and /ɛ.ˈskju/] because we have collected citations for [them] over a span of years from educated native speakers of English"; Sietsema also quotes John Walker's A Critical Pronuncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language, which quotes Elphinston, who (per Sietsema) "wrote in defense of the spelling eskew and the pronunciation appropriate thereto"; Sietsema also asserts "it is clear from the list of alternate early spellings in the Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition that the shoe pronunciation is pretty old as well, and it is clear from our citation files that the shoe variant is used at least as much as if not more than the chew variant"; Elster asserts, however, that no other dictionaries give shoe or skew as possible pronunciations
  • Cassel's German & English Dictionary has /isˈtʃuː/ (but they seem to use /i/ for /ɪ/) (and I wouldn't attach much weight to this dictionary, anyway)
  • this WordReference thread features someone (a Romanian?) calling "es-CHEW" the British pronunciation, a Canadian saying "everyone here says eh-shoo {{..}} I have never heard anyone ever say es-chew", and one Briton and one American saying they've never heard anything but "es-chew" in British and American English respectively
  • John Well's phonetics blog quotes Michael Covarrubias of Purdue University as saying "It was only in the last several years that I learned the standard pronunciation of "eschew" as /ɪsˈtʃuː/ (blog, 5 Oct). This was not however from a lack of exposure. I've been using the word for at least 15 years. And in several departments where I've had the pleasure of studying, including the University of Michigan, I've seen and heard the word quite often, used in conversation and read aloud — and I only heard it pronounced /ɛˈʃuː/. What surprises me is the unanimity with which descriptive dictionaries fail to report this common American form. Any time I have called attention to the standard pronunciation /ɪsˈtʃuː/ the claim is met with skepticism."

- -sche (discuss) 23:08, 27 August 2012 (UTC)