"Luck out"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Oct 16 01:13:38 UTC 2011

On 10/15/2011 8:33 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Luck out"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Here apparently is another "lucked out," adj. :
> 1942 _Time_ (Sept. 28) 56: The Press: Lucked Out ... If indestructible
> Larry Allen's luck had indeed run out (his capture is still not
> officially conformed), he could console himself with the knowledge
> that his courageous efforts to get the news had made newspaper
> history. ...[He had] two miraculous escapes from death. ...Allen is
> the 18th U.S. correspondent ... to be taken prisoner on the job in
> World War II.
> This appears to be the only time Time has used th phrase.

Given the ellipticalness of the title (if I'm understanding correctly
that it is merely "Lucked Out"), no exact interpretation seems secure in
this case IMHO.

This example and a number of others were quoted in Mark Liberman's
Language Log posts, and in some appended comments.

To me, the transitive applications of the collocation (e.g., "They
lucked out a victory", "They lucked us out of the victory"/"We were
lucked out of the victory") seem entirely distinct from the intransitive
ones (e.g., "They lucked out and won", "They lucked out and lost"),
although I suppose one can inquire/speculate as to historical
connections. The "adjective" form seems to me to be basically a passive
participle reflecting a transitive application.

-- Doug Wilson

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

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