"send the wrong message"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 13 22:45:57 UTC 2011

For when you fail to "send a strong signal."  I.e., "impart an adverse
suggestion or impression to."

GB appears to have a legitimate ex. from 1969. At least the context
implies that the Vietnam War is still going on.

ProQuest yields nothing in the NYT until 1978.

1975 _Syracuse Post-Standard_ (June 19) 4 [NewspArch]: [South Korean
dissidents] accordingly look with apprehension at American
Congressmen, clergymen, civil libertarians, and liberals for fear they
will send the wrong message to Pyongyang and Washington.

All earlier exx. seem to refer to literal, concrete messages.

It seems to me that there was a lot of TV commentary beginning about
1968 that antiwar demonstrations, bombing halts, etc., "will send the
wrong message to Hanoi."  Of course, it might have been 1969. Or I
could be crazy.


"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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