Friday, August 29, 2014

maddening crowd/madding crowd: The Weekend Edition—Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday–Sunday, August 29–31, 2014

maddening crowd/madding crowd
When Thomas Hardy titled one of his novels Far from the Madding Crowd he was quoting a phrase from Thomas Gray’s 1750 poem “Elegy on a Country Churchyard” which used the archaic spelling “madding.” The only reason to refer to “madding crowds” is to show how sophisticated you are, but if you update the spelling to “maddening” it will have the opposite effect: you’ll look ignorant.


The Week's End Extra from the Archives: "Not a bunch of baloney: Ben Zimmer gets to the meat of the issue" (May 3, 2013). Bonus tie-in: Ben Zimmer is an uncredited contributor to William, James & Company's own Far from the Madding Gerund.

1 comment:

  1. Though the root is identical, the meanings differ. "Madding" is intransitive--running mad or frenzied. "Maddening" is transitive--driving someone else mad.