Propaedeutic? Um…

A dictionary-only word that you shouldn’t use in English. (With or without the -ae- spelling variant.) Nobody knows it.

Checking a word to see if it’s in the dictionary doesn’t mean you should necessarily use it. There are lots of words there that are so obscure you’ll either confuse people or risk looking like a smart-arse.

  • Just to prove my point: there are more than fifty times as many hits for the word on Dutch sites as there are on British ones.
  • And many of those hits are clearly non-native academic hits or specialist education sites.
  • Don’t use it unless you want your reader reaching for their Chambers or Merriam-Webster: nobody knows the word. Say something descriptive (second year, preparatory course, whatever).

It’s the same argument as “colophon“: in the “Fake English” category because it’s so obscure.

Prevalence: low. Almost never appears outside of people’s résumés and potted histories.
Frequency: endemic – almost invariable. Dutch authors just assume there’s something similar and common in English. Well, there isn’t.
Native: no. I’d never heard the word before coming to the Netherlands.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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