Grant Barrett gbarrett at AMERICANDIALECT.ORG
Sun Apr 16 03:54:16 UTC 2000

On Saturday, April 15, 2000, Barbara Need <nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU>
>I just finished reading a Martha Grimes mystery in which she has an
>American from Virginia (at least as far as I can tell) use _feature_, as
>_I just can't feature that". The only other place I had ever encountered
>was in the speech of my 90+ year-old cousin in Indiana (north of
>Indianapolis). As far as I can tell, it means 'imagine' or 'figure out'
>something like that. Can anyone tell me what the range of use of this
>is? Is it used in Virginia? Or was that application by Grimes like
>Christie's use of _I guess_ in all her Americans? What DOES it

DARE has a good entry that kind of jibes with what I remember using in
high school (perhaps Junior High as well) more than 12 years ago. We used it
with consciousness of its status as unusual and novel;it was something of a
catch phrase for us. We almost always said it in the form "I ain't
featuring that" usually meaning something like "I ain't allowing/putting up with
that" or "I ain't agreeing/inclined to agree with that" or "I can't see that
ever happening." It is entirely possible it appeared in a movie popular
with teenagers at the time. The usage had wide currency in our group.

The DARE entry:

2. To imagine, comprehend, believe.
1934 AmSp9.160, A teacher..writes that..She hopes for the vogue of the
expression "Can you feature that?' meaning 'Can you comprehend it?' will be
short-lived. 1942 Berry - Van den Bark Amer. Slang 171.2, Feature, "to
comprehend, get a picture of, as 'can you feature that!'" 1950 WELS Suppl. 1 Inf,
csWS, I couldn't feature it = I couldn't believe it. 1951 AmSp 26.237,
Strange, can you feature such a shrimp of a man as high brass? 1966 DARE (Qu.
NN7, "Exclamations of surprise) Inf AR41, Feature that! 1978 Doig "This
House" 33 MT, Thought we couldn't see 'em behind those damned little
lunchboxes, can ye feature that?

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