Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

PRETEXTING

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

PRETEXTING

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:05 am

• pretexting •

Pronunciation: pree-tek-sting • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Obtaining secret or private information by pretending to be someone eligible to see that information; in other words, giving a fictitious identity (pretext) to obtain restricted information.

Notes: Today's shady word came by 'verbing' the noun pretext "a fictitious reason dreamed up to conceal the real reason for something". The word was rediscovered by those reporting the 2006 Hewlett-Packard scandal. September 5th of that year Newsweek revealed that the board chair of HP, Patricia Dunn, had hired a team of security experts to spy on HP board members to determine the source of HP company secrets published on the Web. The security experts pretexted themselves as board members and journalists in order to obtain telephone records of HP board members, a practice that is illegal. Ms. Dunn resigned as board chair.

In Play: It is odd that the practice of pretexting was widespread throughout the 20th century but that the verb describing the practice surfaced only recently. Jim Rockford the detective in the TV series of the 1970s, The Rockford Files, obtained most of his information by pretexting. In fact, most detectives, like con men, obtain information in precisely this way. But the use of the noun pretext as a verb goes back to the end of the 18th century, when Horace Walpole wrote in Memoirs of the reign of king George the third (1797), "A decency was observed, and conscience always pretexted."

Word History: Today's word comes from Latin praetextum, the neuter past participle of praetexere "to disguise", a verb made up of prae- "before, in front of" + texere "to weave". (Yep, there it is again in textile and text.) Remember, now, that X represents two linguistic sounds, [k+s], so this root may be broken at tek-. This is how it was possible for it to emerge in Greek at techne [tek-ne] "art, craft, skill", borrowed in such English words as technique and technology. In German, the same root became Dachs "badger", an animal apparently named for its skill at burrowing. We know this word from the name of the dog that once hunted badgers without pretexting: the dachshund.
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3622
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Postby Slava » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:28 pm

While this is a valid word, I find it awkward. Even more awkward than the word awkward looks. Perhaps this is partly because we now have "texting" as a word.

"They pretexted themselves into the IBM office to spy on the board members." Doesn't that sound like something you might get in a movie like "The Matrix"?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4827
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

PRETEXTING

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:52 pm

I think the awkwardness may be because it is polysemous. It can also mean "texting ahead of time" or "texting before the real or actual texting".

It is also a case of "verbing" a noun; awkward like "impacting" used to be. It is has by now been heard so many times that I find it hard to believe I received so many complaints about it.
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3622
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Re: PRETEXTING

Postby Slava » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:08 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:I think the awkwardness may be because it is polysemous. It can also mean "texting ahead of time" or "texting before the real or actual texting".

It is also a case of "verbing" a noun; awkward like "impacting" used to be. It is has by now been heard so many times that I find it hard to believe I received so many complaints about it.
How can anyone complain about "impacting"? Not only does it clear my Firefox spellchecker, but it clearly has meaning in dentistry. Let's face it, if thy teeth be angling against each other, aren't they impacting?

For the curious, polysemous may be found here and here.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4827
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:34 am

Pretexting cannot apply to texting. To pretext would be to text, in that sense, and thus an oxymoron. It does easily come to mind, however.
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2540
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Postby Slava » Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:21 am

Perry Lassiter wrote:Pretexting cannot apply to texting. To pretext would be to text, in that sense, and thus an oxymoron. It does easily come to mind, however.
But, if you can have a pre-meeting meeting, why not have a pretexting text?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4827
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY


Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 10 guests