I was reading an essay by William Hazlitt today called “Hot and Cold.” In it, he compares Catholics and Protestants (as well as Italians and Swiss, and others). He writes:

It may by this time be conjectured why Catholics are less cleanly than Protestans, because in fact they are less scrupulous, and swallow whatever is set before them in matters of faith as well as other things. Protestants, as such, are captious and scrutinizing, try to pick holes and find fault,—have a dry, meagre, penurious imagination.

I was drawn to the word captious which I hadn’t heard before. Looking it up (in Microsoft Word’s Encarta dictionary; I used the OED, too, but this one was better encapsulated), I discovered:

tending to find fault and make trivial and excessive criticisms - or - intended to confuse or entrap an opponent in an argument.

And I thought “that’s me!” (Look for an essay called “Captiousness” someday perhaps not too soon.)

PatrickWords02/27/06 0 comments

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