new -er

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Wed Dec 23 17:06:27 UTC 2009

Yes, of course "kill-biller" is a (seemingly) novel arrangement. But it is the same old dreary -er.
------Original Message------
From: Benjamin Zimmer
Sender: ADS-L
ReplyTo: ADS-L
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] new -er
Sent: Dec 23, 2009 9:58 AM

On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 9:02 AM, <ronbutters at> wrote:
> From: Victor Steinbok
> > "kill billers"--those on the left who advocate voting down the current
> > version of the health-care reform bill.
> >
> >
> >
> > Don't know how widespread this is, but the term certainly falls into the
> > pattern of other recent "-ers".
> There is NOTHING new about this -er. It simply means 'agent' or 'instrument'.
> Agents may be good, indifferent, or bad. The intended meaning depends on
> context. It always has. My father always said "New Dealer" with a sneer. I
> have friends who say "recycler" with scorn. My usage is essentially positive
> for both words. The same ambiguity of implication is inherent in "kill biller."

For me, the novelty here is that the expected N-Ver form,
"bill-killer," is inverted under the influence of Quentin Tarantino's
"Kill Bill."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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The American Dialect Society -

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