"(one's) to lose"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 2 15:30:31 UTC 2011

For my money, this one is different from the rest because the meaning is
literal. All other examples--including the 90's+ horse-races, the
possession is virtual and not literal. Basically, the subtext of "It's
Obama's race to lose" is "unless he makes a mistake". Similarly, in
Cacoyannis's text (also a translation), the world is only a virtual
possession, not actual.  But the meaning in the Stryienski passage is
"he can do as he pleases" because the possession is /actual/.

Look at it in another way. In this case, only the king can lose the
crown--although he can lose it by someone else's act, not merely his
own. In the racing metaphor, there is /always/ a loser, no matter who
the favorite is--whoever wins, favorite or not, everyone else, in that
context, loses, even though the losers never had possession of the win,
except for the virtual one by the prohibitive favorite.

This is also why Clytemnestra's line works so well--Agamemnon may have
virtual possession of the world outside the home, but she has the
/actual/ run (possession) of the house. You can't make it work in the
1916 case.


On 10/2/2011 10:57 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> The still earlier passage may, however, be the effective origin. It appears
> in H. N. Dickinson's translation of  _The National History of France: The
> Eighteenth Century," by Casimir Stryienski (N.Y.: Putnam, 1916), p. 218:
> "Maupeou was exiled on August 24, 1744. The Chancellor said when he left : '
> *The King wishes to lose his crown*. Well, it is his to lose.'"
> Another seemingly obvious locution, but once essentially nonexistent.
> JL

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