In this video, at around 0:30 Clarence Thomas says, “I’d like to start by saying unequivocally, uncategorically that I deny...”.

The word “uncategorically” is a malapropism for categorically and is not even listed in some dictionaries. So I think he might want to say: “unequivocally and categorically”. Does he really mean to say “uncategorically”?


1 Answer 1


Actually, Thomas does use the word "uncategorically" to mean "categorically". It is a common misuse because it is mistakenly thought that "categorically" means "restricted within a category, with conditions" and so people have attached "un-" to mean "for all categories, unconditionally". But it is incorrect. It is used so often that "uncategorically" and "categorically" are taken to mean the same thing = "unconditionally".

So even though he should have said "categorically", he did in fact say "uncategorically". This word will be hard to correct because its so widespread. The "official" language and dictionaries might eventually give in, but not without a fight I'm sure.

The "and" was simply unspoken. It is fairly common in speech to begin a list but choose not to add a third and simply continue the sentence as if you had said "and".

The "and" can also be overused when speaking a list of two but deciding to continue to add to the list for emphasis:

I'd like to start by saying unequivocally and uncategorically, and unambiguously, and unquestionably deny...

We can overlook those mistakes in speech.

However it can also be understood as an interjection (aside, interruption) of his original sentence, to emphasize or even replace the earlier word.

I'd like to start by saying unequivocally --uncategorically-- deny...

Usually, the interjected word is spoken with more stress or volume to clearly show that it is an interjection but Thomas doesn't stress it too much so it makes me less likely to interpret it this way.

  • Thanks, but you seem to miss my point about “uncategorically” and “and categorically”. I mean the sound.
    – user67265
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 2:36
  • Sorry about that. You can see from my overlooking that difference, how widespread and common "uncategorically" has become. I did re-listen to his statement and updated the answer. Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 3:33

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