"laying a predicate"

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 20 04:51:57 UTC 2008

(To save some the trouble of googling...) Safire covered this in a column (

''This is an old grammar term,'' he [Sen Roberts] tells me. ''To set the
predicate is to determine the action the noun'' -- in this case, the subject
of the report -- ''is to take. When we release our report, it will set the
predicate for intelligence reforms to come.''

So this usage tends to show less 'a laying of a foundation' and more the
'charting of a future course.'  At least that's how I read it.  As to
whether the origins are ultimately grammatical or lawyerly, the quote has
not much to say, since presumably Sen Roberts wasn't all that old when he
received his schoolin'.


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

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