officially = 'conclusively; definitively'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 22 12:40:33 UTC 2010

CNN also reported over the weekend that the "fact" (in either the
traditional or the novel sense) that "the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is
the busiest air-travel day of the year" is "a complete myth."

I'm not entirely happy with "conclusively; definitively." John's "by
agreed-upon standard" works in connection with Memorial Day, but is probably
a different sense.

 Part of the trick of defining this is that you have to cast aside all
literal associations with "official."

The Battle of Britain really and truly brought devastation; Memorial Day
brings "summer" only by wishful thinking. (Unless this is a broader,
"unofficial" sense of _summer_.)

On Sun, Nov 21, 2010 at 10:09 PM, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: officially = 'conclusively; definitively'
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        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
> 1.
>        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
> year.
> 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
> used
> 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.
> JL
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