Columns » Words

It's getting down, right?


1 comment

"It's getting down right biblical at Plaza Towers." The first question about this sentence is easily answered. Downright is one word. The second, should biblical be capitalized, is not so clear-cut.

The name of the sacred book of the Christian faith is always capitalized (Bible) and Random House prefers a capital for the adjectival form too, although it acknowledges that biblical is used also. The Associated Press Stylebook and other authorities say that biblical is always lowercase. Under the constitutional provision for separation of church and language in this country, you can probably get by with either Biblical or biblical.

Speaking of that noted secular document, Constitution and constitutional raise the same question as Bible and biblical. The AP Stylebook, which is followed by most of the American press, says:

"Capitalize references to the U.S. Constitution, with or without the U.S. modifier: The president said he supports the Constitution.

"When referring to constitutions of other nations or of states, capitalize only with the name of a nation or a state: the French Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution, the nation's constitution, the state constitution, the constitution.

"Lowercase in other uses: the organization's constitution.

"Lowercase constitutional in all uses."

"The announcement means that George likely doesn't take the stand. Despite the obvious drama that would be created by such a game-changing moment ..."

John Wesley Hall wrote, "Game-changing is another phrase that should have ended with the book and movie." I'd heard the phrase, but, embarrassingly, I didn't know the book and the movie it came from. I guessed "Abbott and Costello Meet the Game-Changer," thinking it might be one of the pair's more recent efforts, but Hall explained that "Game Change" was a book and later a movie about the 2008 presidential campaign. Having missed both, I'm not quite as tired of game-changing as he, but I'll probably get there.

Hall is annoyed also by "It is what it is." So am I, but I thought this one was dying out. Maybe I've just been lucky.


Showing 1-1 of 1


Add a comment