Increasing reverence

The Rev. Seminarian Chad Foster wrote a letter to U.S. News & World Report (April 5) and reverently signed it as just described. The usage was new to me. Have you ever seen a seminarian "reverendized"? The designation set me to doing some research.

It occurred to me that Foster's first name might be "Seminarian," and his middle name "Chad." But The Baby Name Countdown, by Janet Schwegal, which lists 50,000, has no "Seminarian." It has "Selwyn," "Semaj," "Semerill," "Semi," "Semil" and "Semisi." But no "Seminarian."

So it was a title. Then Foster put that "The" in front of "Rev.," as one should, according to Fowler in Modern English Usage, Follett in Modern American Usage, and William and Mary Morris in Dictionary of Contemporary Usage--which ought to cover everything, since Foster is from St. Louis, where they speak English and are American--and April 5 is contemporary. So far so good.


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