Now, how many ... (was careen vs. career)

Seán Fitzpatrick grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET
Sun Nov 29 23:41:11 UTC 2009

"That's not an either-or question."
I instantly recognized that the standard (?clichéd?) form for derailments is
"careen".  A train that overruns the terminus might career into the station;
a train that is derailed, especially if blown off the tracks by a bomb,
likely careened.  Pace the Mac dictionary and S. Sondheim, neither I nor* thinks “career” implies being out of control.

Having read the article, I think it is a case where one has to take the
writer at his word--as when someone says "gild the lily".  Maybe the writer
missed the cliché, but maybe he *meant* "career", whether or not in the
(somewhat ambiguous) Sondheimian sense.

*The definitions for "careen" all involve tilting (as a boat is careened on
shore), except the synonym "career", which is the only verb form for
"career":  "to run or move rapidly along; go at full speed".

Sean Fitzpatrick
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
I blame Global Warming.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Barnhart [mailto:dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM]
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2009 6:52 PM
Subject: Now, how many ... (was careen vs. career)

How many would use _career_ over _careen_ in conversation, given the
closeness of their meanings?


Barnhart at

The American Dialect Society -

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