Katie Couric's Notebook: William Safire

I chose my words carefully for today's notebook, as I'm discussing the dean of the dictionary, the lord of lexicon.

As a speechwriter in the Nixon administration, William Safire penned some of the most memorable lines in politics like "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

While his alchemy of alliterative acumen was alluring, he's best known for the words and phrases he deconstructed as the author of the weekly New York Times column "On Language."

Though he never graduated from college, Safire became the everyman of etymology - teaching us not only what the popular words of the day meant, but why they mattered.

In an age of abbreviated text messages and emails sent in lower case...as though they were written by e.e. cummings - that little grain of both good grammar and good humor was a refreshing Sunday treat.

For all those precisely punctuated, succinctly structured sentences - we'll miss him, period.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.
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