on accident

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Fri Jan 14 16:45:19 UTC 2000

Hi all--I'm back on-line.  Coming to you live from the UK.

> I haven't heard this one, but I heard something else new (to me) the other
> night, on "Law and Order" (which I watched for the first time and just "on
> accident"):  A young girl accused of murder said of her victim, "He just
> went dead"--as if on accident.  I'm reminded of the old "He up and died,"
> also as if accidentally.  Is "went dead" familiar to others?

Well, certainly phones and electrical things can 'go dead', but not people
--for me, at least. (perhaps this indicates a certain psychopathology in the
accusee!)  The only reason I could see for saying this of a person is if you
were doing a sort of metonymy regarding the heart monitor or life support
system.  E.g., "I was watching him on the monitor, and all of a sudden he went
dead, so I started CPR."

As for 'on accident'--it seems to me that my brothers and i used this all the
time as kids in the 1970s.  It's analogous (and antonymous) to 'on purpose').

lynne murphy

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