"Pre-owned,""near miss," "s/he"

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Sep 28 13:45:51 UTC 2001

Hmmm. "Near miss" also has very precise meaning in the way I use it
(having no artillery experience); two airplanes (usually, although I
admit other vehicles to the construction) come dangerously close but
do not hit, and there is no damage. I think that's pretty precise, as
ordinary language goes.


>In a message dated 9/28/01 8:44:11 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>tharriso at MAIL.MACONSTATE.EDU writes:
>>  "Near miss" looks like it ought to mean that someone almost missed
>>   something but hit it after all, while it was used to mean that someone
>>   almost hit something but missed it after all.
>No, "near-miss" has a more precise meaning than you think.  "Near-miss" is
>used to refer to explosive devices (bombs, artillery shells) which do not hit
>the target but which explode nearby, so "near" that the target is damaged,
>perhaps seriously.
>That is, a "miss" but "near" enough to be damaging.
>The usage dates to at least the early days of World War II and I think was
>originally naval---from the beginning of World War II ships were damaged and
>occasionally sunk by aircraft bombs that missed the ship but exploded at a
>near enough range to be deadly.
>                   -- Jim Landau

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

More information about the Ads-l mailing list