possible antedate of indiscriminative "whatever"?

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Jul 22 12:41:45 UTC 2006

On Sat, 22 Jul 2006, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:

> It looks pretty solid to me. I'm trying to find a reason to
> dismiss it, but can't.

Aren't there two uses of intensive "whatever"?  One is a recent voguish
use indicating extreme indifference: "if that's what you think, fine, it's
not important enough to me to argue about it, end of discussion, let's
move on to something else."  The other is a more traditional usage,
unrecorded by OED, indicating anger and pronounced with a strong emphasis
on the second syllable: "the point you are making is irrelevant to the
real issue, which I will now explain to you."  This traditional use is
probably elliptical for some saying like "whatever you say is besides the
point."  I think Larry's example illustrates the second sense.  Am I
misanalyzing this?


Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
   Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list