Expedient does not mean “fast”

In my editing travels I have come across this error far more often than you’d believe. Indeed, I find “expedient” used incorrectly with greater frequency than I find it used correctly.

For the record, expedient means advantageous or advisable.

I surmise that, because the word is similar in spelling to “expedite,” people sometimes conflate the two. Also, the second syllable sounds like speed. It’s as if the word gods set a bear trap for us. What did we ever do to offend them? Other than mangle the language all day, that is.

Some example of incorrect and correct usage of “Expedient.”

kirk

Incorrect:

Captain Kirk seduced the green alien woman in an expedient manner, having beamed down to her planet only minutes earlier.

Correct:

It would be expedient for the green alien woman to get tested for an STD after spending the night with Captain Kirk, a noted lothario.

*

Incorrect:

Usain Bolt ran the 100-meter dash expediently.

Correct:

If you intend to run the 100-meter dash against Usain Bolt, it is expedient to practice as often as possible. Nevertheless, you are going to lose.

*

Incorrect:

Republicans and Democrats worked together and passed the anti-Godzilla legislation in an expedient fashion.

Correct:

It was politically expedient for Republicans and Democrats to work together on an anti-Godzilla bill, what with the massive beast closing in on Los Angeles.

*

Incorrect (though, in its wrongness, still true):

When you write expediently, you run the risk of making silly mistakes.

Correct:

If you think “expediently” means “quickly,” it is expedient for you to buy a dictionary.

*

Today’s theme song is Faster than the Speed of Light by Swedish hard-rock guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, whose fingers sure are speedy. Vocals by the great Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow. They don’t make rock singers like that anymore.

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