Dell’s Inanity Is Not Insanity, Just Frustrating


PlayI came across today’s word in David Pogue’s New York Times Circuits email newsletter. The word is inanity. When I first read it I suspected it was a typo; that Pogue meant insanity. As the author of many typos I was quite excited to find a typo in a New York Times article.

Alas, inanity is a word. It is an noun meaning total lack of meaning, or or as Merriam-Webster puts it, “the quality or state of being inane.” Something that is inane lacks a point or significance.

Pogue’s article is about the pluses and minuses of Dell’s tech support. He writes:

“And even though they’re scripted to the point of inanity, the overseas reps have twice helped me, too, resolve problems to my satisfaction (including the time my hard drive died, and Dell replaced it at no charge).

You can see how the word insanity could fit in there too. But I think Pogue’s diction is more appropriate because the tech support questions often seem unrelated not crazy.

A side note about Pogue: he suffers from carpel tunnel damage so he uses speech-to-text to avoid irritating his condition, so I should have known the only typos to be found in his work would be incorrect diction not misspellings.

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