feet first

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 20 22:31:49 UTC 2011

One more note. OED does have "feet first" under "first adj. (n.2) and
adv. I. 3.b.". But the meaning is entirely unrelated.

>  b. In adv. phrases (where foremost may be substituted), head first,
> feet first, etc., i.e. with the head, feet, etc., foremost.
> 1877    C. H. Spurgeon Serm. XXIII. 46   We used to dip our toes in
> the waves instead of taking a plunge head first.

There is, however, a relevant quotation under "pop v.1 9. slang a. to
pop (off), also to pop off the hooks":

> 1975 New Yorker 26 May 32/2,   I agreed not to say 'death',
> 'dying',..'go home feet first', 'pop off the hooks'.


On 1/20/2011 5:04 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> ... So one would expect the proverbial "feet first" to disappear from
> American English.
> Well... no!
> http://tinyurl.com/4naf7u7
>> A source close to Lieberman told the New York Times that the senator
>> decided retirement was preferable to defeat. "I don't think he wanted
>> to go out feet first," the person said.
> I suppose, one could blame this on Lieberman and "source close to" him
> being of a certain age where "feet first" still meant something. In
> this case, it's not even the primary meaning, as the reference is to
> the "political death" and not a physical one.
>     VS-)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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