Re: Patriarchy and matriarchy

James Murphy (jmurphy@MAGNUS.ACS.OHIO-STATE.EDU)
Mon, 18 Mar 1996 13:10:33 -0500

According to Jim Moore:
> The ridiculous extremes seen in this differential definition can
> be seen by looking at the OED (who was it who said that quoting
> dictionary definitions is the last refuge of a scoundrel?)

No one, to my knowledge. Samuel Johnson, <who wrote a dictionary>, said that
"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?" You seem to be suggesting that
we revise this to "Patriarchy is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

> includes the word "patriarchess: a female patriarch".

While the term "patriarchess" is as archaic as that of "authoress" and I would
not recommend the use of either-- particularly in today's polarized climate--
to dismiss all such terms as "ridiculous" suggests a remarkably astigmatic view
of both history and philology.

Who was it that said "Context is everything?" I'm sure s/he was exaggerating
for the sake of emphasis, but it is a point worth noting.

Jim Murphy