December 16th, 2017


I saw the word "elide" in a WSJ column today, used in a sense of transitioning from one stage to another, and I puzzled over it, feeling the word was right, but also wrong.

I tend to think of the word in its more linguistic context, where it means to drop a sound out. So I looked it up just now:

omit (a sound or syllable) when speaking.
"the indication of elided consonants or vowels"
join together; merge.
"whole periods of time are elided into a few seconds of screen time"

So it can mean "omit" or "join", which might seem opposite, but really not, at least in a linguistic context, because when you omit something in the middle of an expression, you join the two ends.

"Do not" becomes "Don't". The second O gets omitted, and the newly adjacent consonants run together.

One that O has been purloined,
Then the N and T are joined,
Although it's true you still can see
In writing, at least, the apostrophe.