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This morning I heard the word "constitutionality" being used by a journalist with regard to the debate over the legality of health care reforms here in the US.

This grates on my British ears as I would simply use 'constitutional' in this context. Does 'constitutionality' have a different meaning? Is this a recent Americanism?

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Do you know the sentence that it was used in? More context might enable us to answer this question satisfactorily. Without more context we can't tell how the word was being used. –  Matt Эллен Mar 26 '12 at 20:16
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closed as not a real question by Daniel, FumbleFingers, Matt Эллен, KitFox, RegDwigнt Mar 26 '12 at 20:16

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1 Answer

In my experience, constitutionality is a noun, while constitutional is an adjective.

In other words, The law was not constitutional, and, The constitutionality of the law was questioned.

EDIT: As @FumbleFingers points out, constitutional can be a noun; the New Oxford American Dictionary lists it as a (dated) noun meaning "a walk, typically one taken regularly to maintain or restore good health."

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-1: I think this is highly misleading. In the morning constitutional, it's obviously a noun, not an adjective. –  FumbleFingers Mar 26 '12 at 19:48
    
Good point. I had never heard that usage before. For what it's worth, the NOAD lists it as dated. Editing . . . –  zpletan Mar 26 '12 at 19:53
    
NOAD is wrong then. It might usually be used a little facetiously these days, but it's definitely alive and kicking. –  FumbleFingers Mar 26 '12 at 19:56
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