"laying a predicate"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Oct 20 00:13:24 UTC 2008

On Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 8:08 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>>  >From today's interview of John McCain by Chris Wallace.
>>"We know that when you have unlimited amounts of money - in this
>>case $200 million unreported - and there's already been stories of
>>people who have made small contributions multiple times and all
>>that. I'm saying it's laying a predicate for the future that can be
>>very dangerous," McCain told host Chris Wallace in a live interview
>>from Ohio on Sunday morning, blasting the Illinois senator for not
>>voluntarily disclosing his small donors, as McCain has done.
>>Any help on what John really meant to say?
> "laying a precedent", I assume, although I'm not sure that's the
> verbe juste.  Maybe he's hoping a sex scandal will break during the
> next fortnight.

How about an idiom blend of "lay the groundwork" + "set a precedent", with a
bonus malapropism?

--Ben Zimmer

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

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