William Safire, who raked over words in his NYT column On Language, has died.
From 1979 until earlier this month, he wrote â€œOn Language,â€ a New York Times Magazine column that explored written and oral trends, plumbed the origins and meanings of words and phrases, and drew a devoted following, including a stable of correspondents he called his Lexicographic Irregulars.
The columns, many collected in books, made him an unofficial arbiter of usage and one of the most widely read writers on language. It also tapped into the lighter side of the dour-looking Mr. Safire: a Pickwickian quibbler who gleefully pounced on gaffes, inexactitudes, neologisms, misnomers, solecisms and perversely peccant puns, like â€œthe presidentâ€™s populismâ€ and â€œthe first ladyâ€™s momulism,â€ written during the Carter presidency.
An archive of Safire’s column, On Language.