do, v.i.

Ronald Butters ronbutters at AOL.COM
Mon Jan 17 18:19:02 UTC 2011

Natural contemporary speech is full of parody, frozen forms, and extensions of frozen forms. I don't see anything remarkable about Clinton's use of "do" in the cited passage--although I guess one could see it as a sort of nonce extension of all the other extensions of what JL wants to call "frozen forms"--to which should be added "No can do" and "can do guy" (which apparently Holbrooke was). 

But JL is surely right in what I take it is his suggestion that this meaning of "do" is "do well" or "do anything well.' One of his (?) examples ([4]) is excluded on semantic grounds *(and probably [1] as well) but I can imagine contexts in which [2] and [3] would work just fine.

On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 11:51 AM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

Mostly frozen forms, a parody, and the ex. of a different meaning don't
count. I said "natural contemporary speech."

Ever heard:

?He sure knows how to do! [1]

?We'd better start to do on this matter. [2]

?I've had trouble before, but this time I think I can do! [3]

?Why aren't you doing? [4]


>>> At the memorial service for Richard Holbrooke last week, Pres. Clinton
>>> observed that "I loved the guy because he could do - doing in diplomacy
>>> saves lives."  He added, "He could do and do."

>> Those who cannot do, teach.
>> Do unto others before they do unto you.
>> Do as I might, I could not do enough.
>> Still, I might have done.

The American Dialect Society -

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