Apparently today is National Punctuation Day. In America. I decided to contribute to the celebrations by helping writers worldwide get to grips with their punctuation. Because badly punctuated prose really shows up one’s short cummings.
After the fun of ‘Are you stupid enough to use leverage as a verb?’ (in which you added well-considered perspectives on the evolution of language to my fairly bald argument of that’s one ugly word) I’m going to have to break my silence about the word bespoke.
Bespoke is another ugly word, this time an adjective, as in ‘we provide bespoke software solutions’.
It is not common in US English, but is increasingly found in Britain being used to describe services, especially in IT. It is traditionally a tailoring term, coming from the archaic verb bespeak, indicating speaking about or arranging something in advance.
Tailors have used it for centuries to describe suits that are hand-made to an individual’s measurements, as opposed to off the peg, pre-cut garments. Originally, the term described the process whereby a piece of cloth would be reserved for an individual customer. It suggested craft, care and unique personalisation. More recently, it has broadened in tailoring to imply anything that is made to measure.