Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Sep 13 17:25:16 UTC 2003

A recent article in the NY Times had a use of "heartburn" that
brought me up short:

Major Stephan, who is looking for work after taking a furlough from a
commercial airliner, said he did not understand why some troops in
Iraq were complaining. "I have real heartburn about the people you
see on television griping about how they're stuck over there". . .
(NY Times, 9/3/03)

I had always thought that 'hearburn' in its extended sense referred
to a carking anxiety, as in:

"You're compressing a two-year campaign cycle into two months, with
all of the heartburn and anxiety that entails," said Mark Bogetich.
(LA Times, 8/30/03).

But the use to mean "outrage or anger" is well attested,  as e.g. in:

Cable's forced diet of programming is giving viewers heartburn. The
average bill now tops $ 40 a month, up 50% since 1996... (USA TODAY,

For years, the Hormel Foods Corp. has watched as the name of its
famous and popular product also has come to mean junk e-mail, a
source of heartburn and anger for computer users everywhere. (Wash
Post 7/1/03)

And actually the OED gives  "Rankling jealousy, discontent, or enmity."

I wonder how other people understand this word.

Geoff Nunberg

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