Listening to BBC 4, one of our UK readers heard a senior police officer refer to a recent case as “a complex and complicated investigation.” Al asks:
Was he repeating himself or were there subtle nuances of communication here?
Alas, Al. Looks as if the American suspicion that one word is never enough may have found its way across the Atlantic.
Both complex and complicated mean “folded together, intertwined, difficult to separate.”
Complex as an adjective meaning “not easily analyzed” dates from about 1715. Complicated with the meaning “difficult to unravel” dates from 1656.
As its third definition of complicated, the OED gives “to combine or mix up with in a complex, intricate, or involved way.”
My first post for DWT, Let the Word Do the Work, addresses this tendency. Here are some recent additions to my collection:
- inundated by water
- nostalgia for the past
- adequate enough
- pairing together
- world-wide pandemic
- preordained from before