officially = 'conclusively; definitively'

Mon Nov 22 03:09:33 UTC 2010

        I think it's being used to mean something like "by agreed-upon
standard," and typically no humor is intended.  A frequent example is
the remark "Memorial Day is the official start of summer."  A search for
"memorial day" + "official start of summer" gets 157,000 Google hits,
although some of these are for usages such as "un-official start" and
"not the official start."  Of course, summer traditionally begins on the
summer solstice, which falls on or around June 21, and the only American
"office" that has addressed the issue, as far as I know, is the National
Weather Service, which considers meteorological summer to begin on June

        The real message, I think, is from the news media:  "We've told
you this so often that we've come to believe it ourselves."  Another
example is Black Friday, which for years the news media claimed to be
the busiest shopping day of the year, even though it usually did not
break the top five.  But by now the Black Friday hype has been repeated
so many times that it has come to be true after all:  In recent years,
the day after Thanksgiving often is the busiest shopping day of the

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 2010 8:52 PM
Subject: officially = 'conclusively; definitively'

Not in OED.  Common in the media for (maybe) thirty or forty years.  I
to think it was intentionally humorous, but now I doubt it

1998 Lloyd L. Lee, ed. _World War 2 in Asia and the Pacific_ [Greenwood
Press] 294: The Battle of Britain, which began in July, 1940, officially
brought the devastation of war home to Britain.


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