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Sticktoitiveness

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  • Sticktoitiveness—meaning dogged perseverance—regularly appears in three forms: the unhyphenated form, stick-to-it-iveness, and stick-to-itiveness. The three-hyphened form was most common when the word came about in the U.S. in the late 19th century (as attested by the OED‘s examples and in historical news searches). But today, the two-hyphened stick-to-itiveness is most common, and the unhyphenated form is still comparatively rare. The last form is steadily gaining ground, though, and is likely to prevail in the near future, if the word stays in the language.

    We assumed sticktoitiveness in all its forms would be most common in sports writing, but we were surprised to find it in other contexts (see examples below). Still, as a colloquial term, it might be considered out of place in formal writing. There are several good noncolloquial synonyms, including perseverance, determination, dedication, stamina, and persistence.

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    Examples

    [T]he sticktoitiveness of Ben’s towel during a rough-and-tumble, hand-to-hand brawl with Rubber Man can’t go without a mention. [Entertainment Weekly]

    Wait as long as necessary to make it clear you’re not giving up easily; stick-to-itiveness is, after all, the American way. [Lewisboro Ledger (link now dead)]

    This may be due to some old-fashioned shoulder-to-the-wheel, pull-together, family-comes-first, stick-to-it-iveness on the part of the married couple. [Time]

    Still, for all his stick-to-it-iveness, Corbett risks losing all the gains by letting energy companies extract natural gas from Pennsylvania. [Express Times]

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    Comments

    1. Once you start to hyphenate, you have to go all the way. Stick-to-it-iveness it is. The jammed up version breaks my eyes. Not to mention the justification algorithm. Those narrow columns of newspaper type won’t know what to do with “sticktoitiveness,” and we’ll get some sort of horrible line break such as “sticktoiti-
      veness”

    2. bladenomics says:

      How does one pronounce this word! It requires some stick-to-it-ive-ness to be able to pronounce sticktoitiveness.

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