fun with phrases

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 17 13:52:35 UTC 2011

"no stranger to tragedy"

Another journalistic indispensable: the kind of cliche' that only a
professional writer is likely to recognize as a cliche'.  The three
earliest, from NewspArch:

1955 _Cumberland [Md.] Eve. Times_ Oct. 19) II 1: Miss Thomas comes
from a family that is no stranger to tragedy.

1956 _Oakland Tribune_ (Dec. 22) 4:  Mrs. Thompson is no stranger to tragedy.

1957 _Charleroi [Pa.] Mail_ (Nov. 29) 1: No stranger to tragedy is she.

Beginning about 1960, very routine use, as confirmed by GB. NYT
doesn't seem to pick it up till 1981.

What's curious is that the 19th C. has a number of exx. of the
template "no stranger to [some abstraction]."  The plural form ("no
strangers...") is extremely rare.


The American Dialect Society -

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