Here’s an old chestnut – it was noticed and authoritatively corrected a hundred years ago –  that I’ve come across rather a lot lately in the prose of respectable writers. Is it taking on a new legitimacy? That’s what can easily happen when an outright mistake is repeated often enough.

But as readers of this column may have noticed I belong to the school of optimists who hope that with a little encouragement good English may prevail. Here are some examples of misuses of precipitous culled from recent news items: