To Have Been or Not to Have Been

Robert B. Failey Jr., MD
JAMA. 1965;191(6):504. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080060078023.
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To the Editor:—  In the editorial "To Have Been or Not to Have Been" (JAMA190:849 [Nov 30] 1964) the author discusses certain shortcomings of medical writing. In his second paragraph he refers to "sundry vices such as the utilization of polysyllabic structuralizations on a preferential basis, the use of an elongated verbalization instead of a short word, and even the use of incorrect (but correct-sounding) words, although one would not wish to hypothecate that the latter fault was ever deliberate." The late Dr. W. D. Gatch, who was for many years Dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine, was fond of pointing out that the word hypothecate means to pledge, usually in the sense of pledging a security. The proper word in this situation is hypothesize. This teaching has stuck with me for a good many years, and I pass it on to the author of your


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