"Luck out"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Oct 15 08:48:51 UTC 2011

Here is something which seems a little interesting (to me anyway),
brought up recently on Language Log (I don't know how much overlap there
is between ADS-L and Language Log followers).

"Luck out" [v. intrans.] has two opposing senses: (1) 'positive',
meaning "encounter good luck" or so; (2) 'negative', meaning "encounter
bad luck" or so. Both are in HDAS. I think the record indicates overall
predominance of the 'positive' sense, but apparently the 'negative'
sense has some currency, especially (but maybe not only) outside the US.



Apparently the 'positive' sense is attested at least as early as 1911
(US), the 'negative' at least as early as 1954 (US).

Apparently the 'negative' sense was employed recently by Lee Child
(present-day novelist, US resident), and earlier by Pohl and Williamson
(1970's SF).

-- Doug Wilson

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

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