Shout outs and hard ons

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 20 18:02:23 UTC 2009

I remember learning the term "hard on" in boarding school at about the
age of 13, and from the way it was used by my fellow denizens of an
adolescent boys' dormitory it seemed unanalyzable.  I also remember
wondering whether it would be spelled with a <d> or a <t>, since the
alveolar stop laxed to a tap.  To my thirteen-year-old sensibilities,
"have a hard on" didn't sound like a verb+particle construction, even
if I didn't have a clue what a verb+particle construction was.


On Wed, May 20, 2009 at 11:16 AM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Neal Whitman <nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET>
> Subject:      Shout outs and hard ons
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Deja vu: I've learned that some speakers have "hards on" as the plural of
> "hard on", and for me it raised the same questions about reanalysis as it
> did for the term "shout out". Specifically, I suspect:
> have [a hard] [on] --> have a [hard on]
> ...but for some speakers the reanalysis never occurred, or some speakers do
> have "hard on" as a noun, but hypercorrectly pluralize it as "hards on".
> I've written a post on the topic at:
> The "shout out" thread from July 2007 began at:
> Neal Whitman
> Email: nwhitman at
> Blog:
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list