Pushing back

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jul 22 22:01:16 UTC 2008

At 7/22/2008 02:34 PM, Geoffrey S. Nathan wrote:
>While I haven't seen the verb much, the term 'push-back' has been used
>in computing circles for several years at least, to mean something like
>'objections to a proposed change'.  The Wayne State CIO used it
>frequently when we were proposing to institute new password
>requirements, or a change to the Blackboard system or something.

The December 2007 OED entry for "push-back. adj. and n." has

"c. orig. and chiefly U.S. Resistance,
disagreement; adverse reaction, negative feedback.
[1979 R. BOLTON People Skills x. 160 We have a
special phrase that we use to describe an
assertion and the predictable defensive response
to it. We call it the ‘push-push back
phenomenon’... In response to that push there is
an almost inevitable ‘push back’.] 1984 R. M.
KANTER in J. N. Williamson Leader-manager (1986)
481 ‘Push-back’..is a generic term for an
expression of disagreement, often by a manager
needed on the team. Examples of push-back include
telling a manager he's not the right one to bring about a given task." [etc.]

No explicit entry for a verb.  "Push back" = 'to
resist' seems straightforward.  There is the
following under "push v." for changing a date:

"14. trans. To change or reassign (the date or
position in time) of a historical event or an
upcoming event, meeting, etc., freq. to another
date. Also: to reschedule (an event, meeting,
etc.). Chiefly with back, forward, etc.
1847 G. GROTE Hist. Greece III. xxii. 470
Rochette..pushes the date of Cumæ..back to 1139
B. C... The mythes of Cumæ extended to a period
preceding the Chalkidic settlement. 1904 Daily
Rev. (Decatur, Illinois) 14 Nov. 9/4 He and his
prospective wife decided to push the date forward
two days. 1959 N.Y. Times 1 Apr. 46/2 Last year
the State Legislature pushed the opening to March 28." [etc.]


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