"send a strong signal to"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 11 21:54:29 UTC 2011

Nowhere in OED (this time for sure), though political discussion over
the past twenty or thirty years would be impossible without it.

 I assume this "signal" is based on the radio communications sense,
though one or two exx. under 5a might fit under the rubric of  an
"intimation." (Sir W. Scott, 1815, is the most recent, and of course
lacks the broadcast associations.)

GB offers snippets back to "1965," but all dates before "1971" are
evidently bogus and even "1971" looks doubtful.

1973 _Daily Courier_ (Connellsville, Pa.) (Oct. 12) 1 [NewspArch.]:
Congress has sent a strong signal to President Nixon: Don't pick John
B. Connally as the vice-presidential nominee to succeed Spiro T.

1977 Roger Wilkins in _N.Y. Times_  (Dec. 30) A12: It is both to break
that system and send a strong signal to private employers that the
Koch people say they are shifting the Department of Employment into
the Mayor's office.

It becomes frequent in the _Times_ only in 1985.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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