About an hour ago I said the following in response to a question: “very rarely.”
Rare is already pretty rare, as the word itself implies. So to be very rare it’s gotta be, well, very rare.
While I don’t know for certain, I think ‘very rare’ is overused. In fact, the cases where it’d be appropriate are rare.
Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. -- C. S. Lewis
I am far beyond guilty of this.
See? I just did it again. It’s a disease!
Does this really matter? I think so. It extends beyond words, reaching into our lives and sucking out everything good. Maybe.
There isn’t anything wrong with “very rarely”. Let’s say there is a vintage collector’s item that is difficult to get a hold of because it is classified as “rare”. There are different degrees of rare. Something might be hard to find, but something else might be even harder to find. Thus, very rare.
Also, I think your tweet is funny. If you want to get all analytical about word usage:
Because you did it again. By typing “pretty rare” – you’re still accentuating rare with an extra word. Which, as I illustrated above, is okay in my book.
I concede. You are right. Very rare isn’t a very good example. Shoulda used something else.
And yeah, I do it a lot.