Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

My paper this morning includes a word that I have come across several times in the last while, causing me some head scratching.

"Demonstrators demanded the ouster of Serbian President Boris Tadic, who ordered Mr. Mladic's arrest."

I am curious about the tense and usage of this word.  The word <oust> exists, and my various dictionaries have an almost identical entry for each.  The only possible usage difference I can find is that <ouster> may have a particular connotation of expulsion through judicial process or political upheaval, but I am sure I have seen <oust> used the same way.

If I hope to oust someone from power, I would be seeking his ouster.  In doing so, I could be said to be "ousting" them from power, making me he who had committed ouster as well as being the ouster. Would I therefore have "ousted" or have "oustered"??

My etymology dictionary traces these words back through French oster, "put out, remove, avert",  to the Latin obstare, "hinder, oppose, stand in the way", which is the same root as <obstruct> and, interestingly, <obstetrics>.  Fascinating.

I trust that this sojourn into obscure usage is not outside the purpose of this forum, and that I will not suffer an oustment.

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