at a high rate of speed

Listening to the news on the radio this morning, the reporter spoke to someone who described a car as going “at a high rate of speed.” I’ve heard this phrase many times in the past few years, and I’d like to understand its advantage over simply saying “fast” or “very fast”.

The person who said this was simply a witness. He was not a reporter who might be paid per word or be under some pressure to have longer reports. As far as I can tell, it is not any more accurate (like one might say about the word “velocity”), nor does it have any more “political correctness” to it. So why do so many people nowadays find this to be a useful expression?

-G. K. Chesterton

That quote might be the most pompous bullshit I’ve ever seen cited.

I’m gonna go with what ITR Champion suggests. As well as point out that in your example, “rate” and “speed” mean pretty much the same thing. “At a high speed” conveys everything that “at a high rate of speed” does. Of course, as you point out “fast” does the job just as well.

Maybe they are emulating police jargon. I actually heard an ordinary citizen in a TV interview say, when asked what he did after the fire started, “Then I exited the premises.”

A reasonably common phrase is to talk of things travelling at ‘a rate of knots’ - this just sounds like a garbled version of it.

That’d be my guess- people emulating police jargon they’ve heard from reporters. I had a college professor who called this kind of thing “journalese.”

Yeah, police never call it a car - it’s always a vehicle.

These are the same people who aren’t satisfied with saying “at this time”. They don’t even like “at this point in time”. They end up stretching it out to “at this particular point in time”.

That’s really pinning it down, huh?

Worse is to say “at a velocity of 60 mph”. Velocity is a vector, dang it.

And is it really necessary to say “7 AM in the morning”? :rolleyes:

I think you meant to say “The excerpt presented is reminiscent of bovine biologicial biproducts in the metaphorical sense as it seeks to affect condescension.”

When you are writing report after report you fall into a pattern that works. Police reports are not supposed to be great literature, they are supposed to be an accurate accounting of the events so that it can be used later in trial as a tool to give accurate testimony. Many words and phrases are used over and over because they are lawyer proof. “You called it a car in the report, it really is an SUV. What else did you get wrong?” Calling it a vehicle works for cars, SUVs, buses and rickshaws.

Speaking like a police report reads is just dumb.

No cite, but I’ve heard “speaking like a police report” is something insurance assessors look for when chasing fraudulent claims.