"Unring" Not in OED

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Tue Nov 27 16:14:31 UTC 2007

This is helpful, Jesse, and
As a devoted user, I am all for inclusiveness & delighted that you intend to add "unring."

 I know that this is a subject that was much discussed in pr e-internet days,  but I'm wondering how (if at all) the now-indefinitely large size of OED changes anything. Seems to me a topic ripe for a DICTIONARIES article.

I'm also wondering just what "currency" means--you cite age as important, but "unring" has not been around very long & 69,000 Google hits is not really a lot, especially if (as Larry says) the cliche (I resist calling it a proverb) is largely confined to legal contexts and is thus jargony.

You don't mention likelihood of survival and productivity as criteria--hard to estimate, I know, but surely relevant. I'd agree that "You can't unring a bell" is likely to be around for a while, but I wonder if it will spread to other environments (e.g., "The fat lady can,t unsing the last song," "You can't unfuck a deflowered virgin"-though maybe "you can't unconfess your crime"), though my guess is that "unsay" in pretty much this same sense has been around for a long time (You can't unsay an insult") . Maybe "unring" is an extensuon of that? In which case "unsay" would be a good place to add "unring" in the updated OED?

------Original Message------
From: Jesse Sheidlower
To: ronbutters at AOL.COM
Sent: Nov 26, 2007 11:58 PM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "Unring" Not in OED

On Tue, Nov 27, 2007 at 01:54:04AM +0000, ronbutters at AOL.COM wrote:
> I wonder what the criteria are for listing prefixed words
> when they are semantically transparent?

The main criterion, for this and most other things, is simply
currency. No, we can't put in every _non-_, _re-_, or _un-_
word that comes along, but the ones that have been in regular
use for centuries are likely to make the cut.

I think that _unring_ certainly deserves to be included,
because of the frequency of the proverb.

Jesse Sheidlower

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list