the precisely Adj N

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu May 28 23:26:06 UTC 2009

At 5/28/2009 05:28 PM, Mark Mandel wrote:
>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
>On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 1:47 AM, Randy Alexander
><strangeguitars at> wrote:
> > On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 2:47 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> > > You're missing [n]othing, I think, Alison. Â "The precisely correct
> > > soccer cleat" is the one that fits perfectly. Â Think Industrial
> > > Revolution and interchangeable parts.
> >
> > Maybe it's just me then.  It's certainly less common though.
> >
> > Raw Google:
> > "precisely the" 6,600k
> > "the precisely" 130k
> >
> > COCA:
> > precisely the [j*] 284
> > the precisely [j*] 10
> >
> > I still think that something like "that's precisely the right answer"
> > is OK, but "that's the precisely right answer" is weird, if not
> > unacceptable.
>I agree that "the precisely right answer" is weird, although I might
>find it OK in some contexts. There's a subtle semantic difference
>between the constructions, which I am here pulling out of my... head.
>"the precisely right X" suggests some careful matching of X to the
>needs or to a standard, maybe even with real live _precision_ in the
>engineering sense. That's how I understood it for the snow cleats (or
>whatever) in the original post.

That was the understanding I had also, as I was
trying to say in my earlier post.  And I agree
with Mark about "the precisely right answer" --
although perhaps it would apply to correct
responses in the National Spelling Bee (where there is a standard).


>I (too) often search for the precisely
>right word, with all and only the meanings and associations I want.
>Mark Mandel
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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