transitive "preen"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Sep 27 12:38:09 UTC 2011
"You'll add a big, new 'Cover photo' to your page and waste a few hours
preening your Timeline, choosing to feature your happiest memories, hide the
inconsequential ones, and lingering awhile on the most bittersweet of

I was struck by the peculiar use of "preen," which (aside from reflexive
"preen oneself") tends only to be used as a transitive in the case of a bird
preening its feathers -- or else something not too metaphorically removed
from avian self-grooming (e.g., a man preening his mustache/whiskers/beard).


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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