“During the last couple of weeks, I've seen two writers – one a local journalist and the other a nationally syndicated columnist – use the phrase “voting blocks,” said Quentin Riggs, of Edmond, a regular customer at Curly's Soonerco. “I thought the word was ‘bloc,' which is defined as ‘a combination of individuals or groups working for a common purpose.' Can both words be used to describe certain groups of voters?”
Buck reckons they can, Quentin, but he'd be more inclined to trust the political savvy of the person who writes of “voting blocs.”
“Block” can refer to anything from a piece of wood to the area bounded by city streets, to the part of an engine that contains the cylinders and cooling ducts, to a noggin (as in, “I'll knock your block off”).
It can also mean “bloc,” which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as “a group of nations, parties, or persons united for common action” or “an often bipartisan coalition of legislators acting together for a common purpose or interest.”
So if you're writing about a group of citizens who tend to vote alike, you're talking about a bloc of voters.
You can also call them a block, but people who are immersed in politics usually go for the more specific term, which is the one Buck prefers.
“Does Mayor Loosecannon head the pro-temperance block of Swayback voters?” asked Ms. Clarisse van Beauregard in a Facebook posting.
“Let's just say that the mayor is a blockhead,” replied Miss Lulabelle. “He drinks like a fish but heads the anti-drinking bloc.”
Send questions for Buck to Gene Owens, 104 Belspring Lane, Anderson, SC 29621, or e-mail him at BucksEnglish@aol.com. Please let Buck know what town you're from.