"Unring" Not in OED

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Nov 27 02:45:16 UTC 2007

At 1:54 AM +0000 11/27/07, ronbutters at aol.com wrote:
>I wonder what the criteria are for listing prefixed words when they
>are semantically transparent?

Arguably, a reversative verb like "unring", especially one evoking an
impossible act, does merit inclusion given the quite frequent use in
courtroom allusions.  (I know you're not presupposing that "unring"
does exemplify the class of such semantically transparent affixal
formations--my favorite example is "unxeroxable"--but in any case I
wanted to speak up on behalf of the former's [but not the latter's]

>As Robert Burchfield writes (on the OED web site) even an unabridged
>dictionary can't enter every word.

Agreed, especially since there are infinitely many (repaint,
re-repaint, re-re-repaint,...).  Listing all such would be *really*


>I assume this holds true even in this era of unlimited online
>capacity (there are still human and $ limits).
>Is this an issue that has been discussed in the recent scholarly literature?
>------Original Message------
>From: Shapiro, Fred
>Sender: ADS-L
>To: ADS-L
>ReplyTo: ADS-L
>Sent: Nov 26, 2007 7:35 PM
>Subject: [ADS-L] "Unring" Not in OED
>The word "unring," found principally in the saying "You can't unring
>a bell," is not in OED.  There are 49,600 Google hits for "unring."
>Fred Shapiro
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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