Grammar Giggles – Expletive Deleted

I saw this on the news the other day during a story about the arrest of the alleged Phoenix freeway shooter. I thought what they MEANT to say was “expletive,” which is typically used in place of a swear word (which I would assume news stations use all the time to remove offensive language in quoted material). However, this quote uses “explicative.” Thinking that perhaps I just didn’t understand the definition and it could have been correct, I looked it up on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. The definition of “explicative” according to that source is “serving to explicate; specifically :  serving to explain logically what is contained in the subject <an explicative proposition>,” while the definition of “expletive” is “a word or phrase (such as “Damn it!”) that people sometimes say when they are angry or in pain; especially : one that is offensive.” It looks like actual expletives would have worked in these sentences and NOT explicatives.

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