two cliches

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Jul 11 04:06:05 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 11:43 PM, Wilson Gray<hwgray at> wrote:
> FWIW, "*in* a world of hurt" has been around in BE, IME, since 1960-.
> I've never heard it as used in the 17th-c, cites.

Right, that's the modern _hurt_ (no doubt what Arnold was referring to), defined
by HDAS as:

"Esp. Mil., trouble or suffering, esp. deliberately or callously inflicted; in
phr. _a world of hurt_ great trouble or suffering."

 -- with cites from 1971 ("a shitload of hurt" from an Army drill instructor).
Google Books suggests a Vietnam-era popularization of "in a world of hurt".

One of the commenters on Neal Whitman's post about "bucket/box/bag/etc. of
fail/win/etc." suggested "world of hurt" as a precursor:

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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