The word "ilk" and its abuses

Thu Aug 31 07:18:12 PDT 2000

Doesn't the wrong version become the right version if it is embedded? "Specious" meant "plausible" in Hume's English, but it acquired the meaning of " . . . but false: in ours. So Ilk means "same" in Scotland but"kind" in America. --jks

In a message dated Thu, 31 Aug 2000 4:29:11 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Daniel Davies <d_squared_2002 at> writes:

<< Sorry to waste most people's time, but there's been a bit of backsliding on this one lately -- I've caught an "and his ilk" and an "and my ilk".

Just to recap; "Ilk" is an Old Scots word meaning "same". The "his ilk" construction comes from the fact that the chieftain of the Clan Moncrieff refers to himself in formal correspondence as "The Moncrieff of that Ilk" (ie, the Moncrieff of that same, or *the* Moncrieff of Moncrieff). But obviously, people have at some point read this as "Moncrieff of that clan", and thus assumed that "ilk" is available as a quaint or vaguely posh-sounding word for "sort", "kind" or "gang".

Basically, you can use the word "ilk" in any situtation where "same" would also work. The last time I whined about this, Carrol came up with an elegant example:

"He joined the Communist Party in 1953 and left that ilk five years later".

But since the wrong version is so severely embedded, I would imagine that careful writers would avoid it altogether.

In other news, I have now removed the forwarding from this email address to my work one, so the bounce message which Rob got (and the ilk which have been annoying others for a while) ought to no longer be a problem.


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