"Q: "show me out [something]" = show to me?

Andrea Morrow aandrea1234 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 6 16:47:07 UTC 2008

>        Doesn't it seem more likely that the speaker is asking to be
> escorted out the back way (the postern)?
> John Baker

Yes, that is how it seems to me, too - of the same type of
construction as "show me out the door,"  meaning "walk with me to the
door."  Admittedly, this use of "show [someone] out the door" can have
negative connotations ("throw [someone] out"), but I've also heard it
used in a neutral way, and I've found some hits for that more neutral
use on google as well.  Here's an example from a blog, just posted
this morning:

"Xander let her show him out the door, still slightly unsettled.
Seeing Dawn was great, but he had this nagging feeling that he'd been
meaning to ask… some kind of question… to… someone."


> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of Joel S. Berson
> Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2008 10:55 AM
> Subject: "Q: "show me out [something]" = show to me?
> In an 1845 play, I find "Oh save me! Caleb, shew me out the postern ...
> Bar the gates; No doubt they come to forage. Where's the postern?"
> I take this to mean "show [to] me the postern; show me where the postern
> is."
> OED2 has only, under "VI. intr. To be seen, be visible, appear,"
> sense 34, "show out.  a. ? To become visible, emerge from obscurity or
> concealment; fig. to exhibit one's true character," 1839 through 1888.
> Does my reading seem correct, and a transitive use might be added to the
> OED?
> Joel
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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Andrea Morrow
Director of Writing Programs
Stephen M. Ross School of Business
The University of Michigan
Room ER3615 Executive Residence
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
aandrea at umich.edu

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

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