“But Rhodes ruled that the size of Detroit’s debts and problems made it ‘impracticable’ for Orr to negotiate concessions from creators before recommending the Chapter 9 filing to Snyder.

” ‘It is impractical to negotiate with a stone wall,’ the judge said, referring to the unions’ reticence to make concessions on the pension issue.”

I’ve fought the impractical/impracticable battle before. It’s left me with scars and not much else. This is the kind of help one gets from The Cambridge Guide to English Usage:

“Is an impractical suggestion the same as an impracticable one? It could be, though the two words focus on slightly different things. A practical suggestion is one which comes to grips with the situation, while a practicable suggestion is one that’s feasible and could be put into practice. The tone of the two words is different, in that practical comments and commends in a straightforward way, while practicable is more detached and academic in its assessment.”


Insufficient, Cambridge. The only real aid I got from the CGEU was this: “While British writers make considerable use of both words, their American counterparts incline much more toward impractical [in all uses].” God bless America.

 I’ve not only been inclined toward, I’ve always insisted on, “doughnut” as the spelling for that sweet, fried delicacy beloved of Homer Simpson and myself. (I doubt I’d trade my soul for one doughnut, as Homer did in an episode of “The Simpsons,” but I’d think about it.) But I’m finally acknowledging that donut has practically driven doughnut from the field. Even my old Random House accepts donut as an alternate spelling. I’ll still use doughnut, but I’m through “correcting” all those people who do otherwise.


Die-hards can rally around Garner’s Modern American Usage, a rather conservative source. It says:

Donut — or worse do-nut — should be reserved for eatery names and advertising.”

Let me be clear that I’m lowering my standards only in terms of spelling. The old-fashioned, glazed version is the only thing that qualifies as a doughnut or a donut. If it’s dripping with chocolate, if it’s mango-flavored, if it has bacon on top, it’s something else.