A charlatanistic malapropism returns

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In "At the rind of the debate" we noted an odd use of the word exegesis in the Charlatan  Magazine: "the foreign-born population has grown by 4.5 million under Biden's exegesis". Readers diagnosed this as a malapropism for aegis, and another example from a more recent issue of the same publication ("Nightingale", 3/17/2024) confirms the analysis:

While a woman's role within the home was written into the original 1937 constitution under the exegesis of the Catholic Church in Ireland, 2015's Gender Recognition Act and Marriage Act has re-imagined these roles within the once traditional home.

The obligatory screenshot:


  1. John Swindle said,

    March 22, 2024 @ 5:54 pm

    Their reuse of "exegesis" answers one question and raises another. Yes, they mean "aegis." So do they seriously think that's what the word means? Could that mean that the newspaper isn't entirely a spoof?

    If it weren't the Charlatan I'd ask what they meant by "the question of durability" with respect to constitutional amendments and by St. Patrick "serving as Bishop; Brigid of Kildare and Columba; Patron Saint of Ireland; The Enlightener."

  2. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 23, 2024 @ 7:45 am

    In other breaking malapropism news … https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/mar/22/maryland-senate-candidate-slur-apology

  3. Cervantes said,

    March 23, 2024 @ 9:42 am

    In the context of the article, "exegesis" isn't completely ridiculous — women's role within the home may indeed have been defined by the exegesis of the Catholic Church, i.e. their interpretation of scripture. That doesn't necessarily seem to be a mistake.

  4. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 23, 2024 @ 11:16 am

    @Cervantes: It would IMHO be so unusual as to IMHO unidiomatic to phrase that idea in this context as "under the exegesis of" NAMEOFEXEGETINGINSTITUTION.* Whereas "under the aegis of" is a stock phrase.

    Admittedly one can find a recent-ish academic book using the phrase "the reconstruction of social being under the exegesis of hyper-capitalism," where I suspect "exegesis" may be a malapropism but the whole paragraph is so jargony and incoherent it is difficult to be certain of that.

  5. J.W. Brewer said,

    March 23, 2024 @ 11:25 am

    Not to take anything away from the Charlatan for the bizarre originality of its prose style, but here via the google books corpus is a clause from a 1973 issue of the _Journal of the Folklore Institute_ (published by Indiana University): "but this call to organize a Folk-Lore Congress under the exegesis of the Department of Literature was a challenge which could not be ignored." That exegesis as used here is likewise a malapropism for aegis is the best I can offer in making sense of this. (The proposed Congress was "to be held as a part of the World Congress Auxiliary of the Columbian Exposition of 1893," alias the Chicago World's Fair.)

  6. Cervantes said,

    March 23, 2024 @ 1:05 pm

    Agreed that Charlatan magazine is generally poorly written and they don't seem to proofread or copy edit. It's likely they don't know what the word means but I'm must saying that the locution, if awkward, could actually make sense. BTW the etymology of exegesis is from greek hēgeisthai, to lead or direct, so it does I think retain a little of that sense — telling people what to think, as it were.

  7. Mark Liberman said,

    March 23, 2024 @ 5:02 pm

    @Cervantes, @J.W. Brewer:

    Note that in the earlier post, I suggested that the phrase "Biden's exegesis"

    might have meant something like "Biden's interpretation (of immigration policy)", though there's nothing else in the article to raise the question of alternative interpretations of such laws or policies.

    But the "aegis" reading is indeed a stock phrase, as well as being more directly interpretable.

  8. ajay said,

    March 26, 2024 @ 6:14 am

    Clearly they're using the past tense. It was under their aegis, but it isn't any longer. It's an ex-aegis. It has ceased to, er, eedge.

  9. ajay said,

    March 26, 2024 @ 6:23 am

    And I'm not sure that "aegis" is a useful word to use anyway because the Aegis was a shield. If someone is under my aegis, I am protecting them. But it's very often used, as in this case, to mean something more like "supervision" or "authority" or just "awareness". As here, for instance https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3852392?v=pdf
    It doesn't make sense to talk about a UN secretariat protecting the production of a report – protecting from whom? But supervising, or being aware of, yes.

    And I wonder if this is people getting confused between Aegis and Argus?

  10. Al said,

    May 1, 2024 @ 5:10 am

    I've somehow been getting their (atrociously written) newsletter and in fairness, I strongly suspect this is AI-generated content. Those of us who have concerns about the effects of AI on the media should be heartened by how bad it is, at least at the moment!

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