What does "laconic" mean?

Amorelli mariam11 at VIRGILIO.IT
Thu Aug 18 10:07:13 UTC 2005

Not having the OED to hand, may I ask what meanings do appear? Doesn't
"willy-nilly" have its root in "volens nolens"?
EAP,Faculties of Economics & Law
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jonathan Lighter" <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 9:01 PM
Subject: Re: What does "laconic" mean?

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      Re: What does "laconic" mean?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Never ask those twentysomethings !  They always tell you what you most
> fear !
> This reminds me of "willy-nilly."  When I encounter it, it almost always
> seems to mean "recklessly."  This has been true all my life.  But that
> meaning does not appear in OED, whose citations end in 1898.
> JL
> Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM> wrote:
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> Poster: Jesse Sheidlower
> Subject: What does "laconic" mean?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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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