Sacrifice = opportunity cost

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Aug 1 22:03:05 UTC 2012

All of these examples bother me a bit, as being very passive
sacrifices -- in contrast to the sons of Abraham and Jehovah, nothing
was at risk of life or limb.  What exactly happened to the cafe latte
when it was sacrificed?  "Surrender" rather than "destruction" (to
use the OED's words)?  The cafe latte was not surrendered (or even
offered) to someone else.  And not even "forfeited" -- it had no existence.

"Forgo" would be my choice* --
5. To abstain or refrain from (some action or procedure);
6. To abstain from, go without, deny to oneself; to let go or pass,
omit to take or use; to give up, part with, relinquish, renounce, resign.

But I suppose we couldn't find anyone today who could say
"forwent".  Or "I had forgone my caffe latte yesterday, but I'm
having withdrawal symptoms today".


* Of course for the non-P there is the lowbrow "give up".

J the P.

At 8/1/2012 04:44 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>I don't know how closely the two are related. In Christianity,
>surely, Jehovah had a choice as well in sacrificing his son.
>How about these:
>I sacrificed my workouts so I could take my son to his football practice.
>I sacrificed my cafe latte so I could send five bucks to charity X.
>I sacrificed my favorite TV show so I could take piano lessons.
>I sacrificed my daily cookie so I could eat spaghetti carbonara.
>I think these last two in particular are possible, which seem to
>indicate that "sacrifice" can take a really watered-down meaning
>such as opportunity cost or trade-off.
>Benjamin Barrett
>Seattle, WA
>On Aug 1, 2012, at 9:54 AM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> >
> > I don't understand why sacrifice and choice are exclusive.
> >
> > Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac is only a test if it is a choice.
> >
> > DanG
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 4:44 AM, Benjamin Barrett
> <gogaku at>wrote:
> >
> >> My partner (Japanese native) pointed out today that the use by Olympians =
> >> of the word "sacrifice" is odd. I had trouble fingering his objection, =
> >> but then he pointed out that what they are calling sacrifices are =
> >> choices not sacrifices.
> >>
> >> The OED seems to be outdated. The closest is: " The destruction or =
> >> surrender of something valued or desired for the sake of something =
> >> having, or regarded as having, a higher or a more pressing claim; the =
> >> loss entailed by devotion to some other interest; also, the thing so =
> >> devoted or surrendered."
> >>
> >> The AHD =
> >> ( says: =
> >> "Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to =
> >> have a greater value or claim."=20
> >>
> >> Olympians and athletes in general certainly do give up a lot in their =
> >> pursuit of athletics, but this seems to be less lofty: opportunity cost; =
> >> the giving up of something in the pursuit of something else (more highly =
> >> valued).
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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