I was recently writing a sentence and added the words "more just", only for my extension Grammarly to flag the phrase and suggest "juster" instead. Is "juster" really a comparative form of "just"? If so, is it proper grammar to use "juster" instead of "more just". And just for my sanity, if "juster" is the correct form to use, am I the only one who thinks it sounds really weird? Whatever knowledge you have is appreciated. Thanks!
While the comparative juster does not appear in the works of Shakespeare, the Bard does use the superlative in Antony and Cleopatra:
Pompey. If the great gods be just, they shall assist
The deeds of justest men. — A&C 2.1
The Early English Books Online corpus does show, however, that both juster and more just were current in other writers of Early Modern English:
…and no man of evill, but the lord did convay goodnes into him at some time, to make his condemnation the juster: — Richard Greenham, Propositions containing answers to certaine demaunds in divers spirituall matters, 1597. EEBO
…if there were any divine providence, seing that he who had the more just cause, was so over-come: — Robert Pont, A newe treatise of the right reckoning of yeares, 1599. EEBO
Even so, more just occurs far more frequently in the EEBO corpus with 1265 attestations to 679 for juster. Both forms continue in use until the early 20th c., but by mid-century, search results show far more occurences of the surname Juster than anything resembling the comparative adjective.
Even though no other advantage were to be obtained from our present juster views of mind, … — Thomas Brown, Philososophy of the Human Mind, 1860, 10.
The whole brotherhood will live and let live, making juster laws. — William Mercer Grosvenor, The Puritan Remnant, 1911.
It was this hope and this implicit trust in a saner and juster world order which acted as a moderating influence on the forces of revolution and eventually determined the triumph of constitutional government over leftist radicalism. — Kurt F. Reinhardt, Germany: 2000 Years, vol.2, 1962, 644.
A book of essays in English, For a Better and Juster World was published in communist Romania in 1975, but the volume was not edited by a native speaker.
The only reason I can think of why Grammarly would suggest juster is that its algorithm is merely following the rule of comparing single-syllable adjectives with -er, -est and not tweaking the rule to reflect actual usage.
It's odd that 'juster' and 'justest' should sound wrong. 'Just' is a monosyllabic adjective and the rules for making comparative and superlative forms are simple. Perhaps they sound odd because 'just' is, er, just so familiar in its other meanings...?
On reflection, 'more just' sounds like a childish mistake like, say, 'more hot'.
A simple maid, With justest grief and wrong so ill apaid. P. Fletcher Purple Island xi. xii. 148 (1633) (OED)
A single glance of a good plate or a picture imprints a juster idea than a volume could convey. O. Goldsmith Hist. Earth V. 136 (1774) (OED)