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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Jingoist v. Jingo

The Olympics can bring out the Jingoist (or is it Jingo) in just about anyone.  All that competition, all that pride bubbling to the surface. To learn how to properly use these words keep reading. If you liked this usage tip check out Garner’s Modern American Usage. To subscribe to his daily tips click here.

jingoist; jingo.

The former has come to displace the latter as the agent noun corresponding to “jingoism.” A “jingoist” is a belligerent patriot and nationalist who favors an aggressive foreign policy. The word almost always carries pejorative connotations — e.g.:

- “You want every loser white supremacist, every mean-spirited neo-Nazi, every jerk jingoist out there?” James Coates, “Bait-and-Switch Works on the Web,” Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), 8 Sept. 1996, at G4.

- “The Duma’s jingoists seem to care little that the obligations of START-2 are finely balanced.” “Russia’s Surly Answer to NATO,” Economist (U.S. ed.), 1 Feb. 1997, at 47.

- “Many Serbs . . . escaped the war of the jingoists by fleeing or deserting.” Peter Schneider, “The Writer Takes a Hike,” New Republic, 3 Mar. 1997, at 34.

“Jingo” has pretty much been driven out, unless a pun is needed — e.g.: “Jingo bells, jingo bells, jingoism all the way on MTV this season.” “The Best of Cable & Satellite,” Independent, 21 Dec. 1996, at 57. Otherwise, it appears mostly in the phrase “by jingo,” a mild oath expressing affirmation or surprise {I’ll do it, by jingo!}.

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