To Crown and Not to Coronate – What’s so hard about a definition?

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When I launch into researching something, I never know what I will find, but thanks to the Internet what I usually find is a great tide of information – exactly what I am after – How is it so, then, that something that should be very simple (such as a plain simple definition) shows up as a bun-fight on the Net?

In conversation with Greg a little while back, I referred to some aspects of the book I am working on. The scene is a coronation. I used the verb coronate and the past participle coronated which raised doubt from Greg that such a word existed. He had not heard it before. Coronation, yes, but not coronated.

It had not occurred to me that the word might be wrong. I felt familiar with it, had seen it, had read it in that context. However, as is my style, I thought I had better double check.

My own computer dictionary (spell-check) didn’t recognize coronated, but did accept coronate. The dictionaries on my bookshelf didn’t help, though. Neither The New Penguin English Dictionary nor The Macquarie Dictionary containing coronate or coronated. So I got onto the Net and went looking.

What I found was a surprising number of people who seemed appalled at the term coronate, coronates or coronated used in regard to crowning a sovereign. A coronation, it seems, crowns, it doesn’t coronate.

At least that’s how the argument looked. The verb coronate and its past participle coronated are more usually applied to flora and fauna and refer to a crown-like appendage or growth, as in “having” a crown.

Some stated that such terms were new additions sneaking in to current dictionaries, and wrong with regard to a monarchy.

Then along came the other side of the argument, that coronated is the past participle of coronare (Latin) meaning to crown [circa 1623]. Hardly a new addition.

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