‘Whimsical’ Moammar?

by Mark Krikorian

A WaPo piece on post-Qaddafi higher education in Libya includes this sentence:

So the country has begun the process of rebuilding its institutions, which many believe the whimsical leader — who was killed in October — deliberately crippled to eliminate threats.

Whimsical? Sure, the dead drag queen’s choice of clothing and headgear may have been motivated by whimsy, but what the writer means is “capricious.” I’ve never seen the word used in any capacity other than “playfully quaint or fanciful, esp. in an appealing and amusing way,” as Google puts it. On the other hand, the reporter is a Brit, so maybe this is another example of being separated by a common language. But the Washington Post is still an American newspaper written for American readers — aren’t there any editors reading this stuff before it’s published?

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