New use of "unless"?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Jan 23 19:01:14 UTC 2001

L. Horn:

>... I think it's more likely that ... "unlest" is related (phonologically)
>to "acrosst" and
>"oncet". ....

Web search provides a number of modern instances of "unlest"; they all seem
to = "unless".

Is the standard word "lest" heard (outside 'fixed expressions') in casual
speech anywhere? If so, one might expect it to become confused with
"unless", which has reasonably common spoken versions "unlest" and "'less".
For example, if my great-uncle from Dogpatch used "lest" in its standard
sense in casual conversation when I was young, I might have misinterpreted
it and adopted it as "unless"/"unlest" in the same sense in my speech.

-- Doug Wilson

More information about the Ads-l mailing list