penciled out + fired

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Sep 26 14:26:05 UTC 2011

At 9/26/2011 07:06 AM, Dave Wilton wrote:
>This use of "penciled out" is quite common in investment circles. I've heard
>it hundreds of times and never in the passive. It's use in this case is akin
>to "the numbers [don't] add up."

So "penciled out" is a negative, implying rejection?  Or does
"penciled out" mean "sketched, outlined, but not finalized" (akin to
"I've penciled it in to my appointment book"), in contrast to
something "inked in"?


>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
>Victor Steinbok
>Sent: Monday, September 26, 2011 5:04 AM
>Subject: penciled out + fired
>I came across this and started scratching my head.
> > "It was revolutionary," said Walter Bailey, a former Macquarie Capital
> > investment banker who specialized in green technology and visited
> > Solyndra in 2008. "You had some of the smartest money in the world
> > getting behind it. It was a real company with a huge factory and an
> > extremely unique product.
> > "The only problem," said Bailey, now a senior partner at boutique
> > investment bank Focus Capital in New York, "was that it never penciled
> > out."
>It's fairly obvious what "never penciled out" means here, although I
>would have expected a passive construction here ("was penciled out" or
>"had been penciled out"). But, as it stood, the precise meaning was
>elusive. None of the usual dictionary sources (certainly not the
>OED--nothing even remotely related there) were helpful.
>Farlex Financial Dictionary is the only one (unsurprisingly) that came
> > A slang expression for a rough analysis of the viability of an
> > investment.
>Still, it seems that it should have worked out to a passive... The
>meaning seems to be "the numbers never worked out", which is a bit
>different from "the rough viability analysis was never done"--which is
>what one would get from the Farlex definition, passivized.
>I am also wondering if the writer got confused himself when putting the
>piece together. The quote from Baily is broken in an odd way--I would
>have expected the "was" to be included in the first piece, not delayed
>for the second. It's as if the author /expected/ "was" to be in the
>second piece--somewhere.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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