"format" (verb) possible new sense

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 18 19:34:48 UTC 2002

>On Fri, 15 Nov 2002, James A. Landau wrote:
>>  Apparently the verb "to format" has acquired, among computer users, a new
>>  sense of "to have something disastrous happen".  Has anyone else
>>noticed this?
>I have not run across anything like this.
I recall earlier versions of diskettes (back when I used diskettes)
having the option of "Format Disk", when that entailed erasing
everything currently on it.  (I remember the first time being taken
aback by this usage.).  So if you say you want the disk (re)formatted
and discover too late that you've wiped out everything there, that
could certainly be disastrous.


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