Covert Charge

Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Mon Jan 29 18:41:09 UTC 2001

Mark Odegard <markodegard at HOTMAIL.COM> writes:

'Cover' and 'covert' are differently stressed. I don't see how 'k at -v@r' and
'ko-VURT' could possibly be confused -- except in the minds of us'uns, those
of us here on this list who search out ancient Scandic cognates for 'boxer

A cover charge is essentially an admission charge, to cover the overhead,
one that goes hand-in-hand with the idea that menu prices should otherwise
be kept within reason. A covert charge would be uncontracted-for (but you
gotta pay them) charges.

The origin I had heard was that it referred to the tablecloth(?) and table
settings: the things that cover the table, which have to be renewed for
each party that uses a table.

The counterargument about stress would not apply to speakers who know the
word only in print; and for that matter _Amer.Her.Dict._ 3rd edn. lists
     'k^v. at rt  ,  'ko.v at rt  ,  ko.'v at rt
(@ = schwa, o = high-mid round vowel; stress-mark preposed), implying that
the "cover"-like pron is most common of the three. *"Covert charge" with
stress on the "cov" would be almost or actually homophonous with "cover
charge", the final /t/ merging with the [t] onset of the /C/. Someone who
knew the expression "cover charge" and was trying to figure out/invent its
origin could folk-etymologize it in this way. And that's my guess for what

-- the other Mark, Mandel

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