The F Word

What is the world coming to? Or, more properly — To what is the world coming?

And no, I’m not talking about the Massachusetts woman who was arrested for allegedly beating up another woman for bringing one too many items into an “express” supermarket checkout line. I mean, that I can actually understand. And no, I’m not talking about the recent incidents in New York involving the mowing-downs (or is it “mowings-down”?) of pedestrians by a crazed motorist. (Update: Police say that one man is suspected of being responsible for both “accidents”.)

No, the object of my dissension is the word finalize, which apparently is becoming an acceptable word in our language. As noted in The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition:

Usage Note: Once considered objectionable because of its association with the language of bureaucracy, finalize is steadily gaining acceptance. In the late 1960s, 90 percent of the Usage Panel found the example finalize plans for a class reunion unacceptable; in the late 1980s, 71 percent disapproved. By 1997, only 28 percent of the Usage Panel found it unacceptable in the sentence We will send you more information once we finalize plans for the reunion. Although substitutes for finalize can be found among complete, conclude, make final, and put into final form, none of these is an exact synonym. This may be why resistance to finalize is eroding.

What frustrates me even more is that the word’s existence has been accepted by spellchecking “tools” in word processing programs. Yet my favorite other “F” word (oh no, don’t make me say it!) is still questioned by spellcheckers, even though the dictionary accepted it (albeit with the “vulgar” notation) quite a while ago. (I know because when I was awarded a dictionary in 1977 as a prize for winning a spelling bee, it was the first word I looked up.)

I object!

On whom can I take out my frustration?