What does "laconic" mean?

sagehen sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM
Wed Aug 17 19:54:00 UTC 2005

Since fiction is clearly the setting where "laconic" does most of its work,
I'd guess that its appearance in reference to characters who also were
depicted as
 >emotionless; affectless; dispassionate<  might well lead to the
assumption that "laconic" was just another way of alluding to that quality.

For some reason, I actually remember that my first encounter with "laconic"
was reading Erle Stanley Gardner when I was 12 or 13.  Paul Drake was
laconic.  I looked it up!

>Well, _I_ know what it means, and you probably do too. It's
>the rest of the world I'm wondering about.
>I was recently reading an online post about an audiobook, and
>read the comment, "Narrator a bit too laconic for my taste,
>but oh well."
>I thought, "How can it be the narrator's fault?", then
>realized that there's probably a semantic shift here, and did
>the usual exercise of asking a dozen or so highly educated
>twentysomethings what they thought the word meant, and
>discovered that they _all_ think _laconic_ means something
>like 'emotionless; affectless; dispassionate'.
>While I can see how this interpretation arose, I've never
>encountered it before; it's not in a medium-size pile of
>dictionaries and usage books I've checked, and we don't
>have any examples in our files. A quick look through some
>online sources suggests that the usual 'using few words'
>meaning is the one people use in print.
>Any thoughts?
>Jesse Sheidlower

~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>   ~@:>

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