0

Is it ever correct to say:

I misconstruct the truth

That is, to use misconstruct as a synonym for misconstrue?

My research indicates that misconstruct was once used, i.e. is now archaic:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misconstruct

while other dictionaries just present misconstrue as a synonym without further details.

Google confirms the usage has waned in recent decades:

usage chart of "misconstruct", declining over time

But given the ambiguity and contradiction I found among dictionaries, I wonder: is misconstruct still used by native speakers anywhere? How would contemporary native speakers react to its use, as in the example above?

4
  • 2
    What does your own research show? Which do you believe to be correct or incorrect, and why? Like anywhere else, we here on SE prefer to help those who have at least tried to help themselves first.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 14, 2016 at 17:01
  • 1
    In your shoes, I'd be more inclined to trust dictionaries to tell me about words than a bunch of anonymous strangers on the internet. That's what dictionaries are for. But, for what it's worth, I'm a native speaker (a monolingual native speaker, to my shame), and I've never heard "misconstruct", and I would take it as a solecism if I saw it used in place of "misconstrue". But I'm glad you added the dictionary entry to your question, because now I got to learn it used to be a word!
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 14, 2016 at 17:14
  • Since you know that misconstruct is rare, if used at all anymore, I edited the question to ask whether any native speakers use it (as opposed to whether "misconstrue" is correct or not).
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 14, 2016 at 17:26
  • Lexico says that 'misconstrue' is rare. Collins shows a frequency-of-usage graph indicating the same, and puts it in the 'rarest' of its categories. I've not found the word as a headword in other dictionaries except in Wiktionary, which has the caveat 'Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date'. Ambiguity and contradiction? May 17 at 11:59

2 Answers 2

1

misconstruct
verb [with object] rare

Misconstrue (something):

Example sentences:
'I dread that it might be seen and misconstructed'
'Utilitarianism in Victorian England was often misconstructed as essentially anti-art, indeed as the doctrine of cultural philistines.'
'She's claiming the things she said were ‘misused and misconstructed,’ by Vanity Fair.'
'Such misogynist rituals must not, however, be misconstructed as "culture" but must be challenged as basic human rights concerns.'

[Definitions from both the British & World English and US English versions of the ODO are all but identical.]

It would appear from the quoted dictionary definitions that it could be correct to say

"I misconstruct the truth"

Whether it would be sensible or appropriate to say it is another question!

Personally, I don't recall ever having heard it, and when I first read it above, I assumed that it referred to a mistake in the construction of something. [I'm a native British English speaker: effectively all-but monolingual, despite have passed French GCE in the '60s & had German lessons in the '70s!]

0

I think misconstruction is still understood as a noun form of the same word. (Better than "misconstrual", for example. [e.g. my/your spellchecker liked the former, but not the latter!]. So the verb must be allowed, I think.

2
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    May 17 at 4:55
  • Your argument might be be considered easily destructed. May 17 at 12:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.