The Grammarphobia Blog

Gimme closure

Q: My question is about the word “closure.” It is now being used where the simple word “closing” would be perfect. The other day I heard a news item about parishes in NYC that are scheduled for closure. Why not just plain closing?

A: The noun “closure” in the annoyingly overworked emotional sense comes from Gestalt psychology and dates from 1924, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. But as a noun for a bringing to a close, or a closing of something, it’s been around since Shakespeare’s day.

There’s nothing wrong with it, grammatically or etymologically. But it’s extremely tired these days and I wish people would give it a rest.

I can see no reason for referring to the closing of a road as a “road closure.” It brings to mind conflicting images of grieving and asphalt.

And “closing” would be much, much better than “closure” (and less ambiguous) in a news report about the parishes. Someone might be intensely traumatized by a parish closing, and hence in need “closure” in the psychological sense.

Case closed!

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