Sacrifice = opportunity cost

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Aug 5 08:30:30 UTC 2012

Here is some evidence about how trivial this can be:

Recently I sacrificed my beloved Sunday morning lie-in in order to join a cycling expedition to Thanh Thoan Bridge, a small but famous bridge in a local village just outside Hue.  (

I sacrificed my kids clothes and a can of tuna to make some high quality FIRE STARTER!! (

I Sacrificed My Previous Blog [= killed?] (

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Aug 2, 2012, at 1:08 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:

> I think Olympic athletes are making more interesting choices about how to
> lead their lives and devote their energies than the choice between training
> and "loafing and partying".
> DanG
> On Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 9:13 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> All the Olympians have "sacrificed," in the more traditional sense of the
>> word, is time they could have spent loafing and partying, which, let's face
>> it, is pretty important by modern standards.
>> The current questionable usage, though, seems so well established (at least
>> in connection with athletes and celebrities) that it may be pointless to
>> worry about it.
>> "To put in endless hours of effort at the expense of comparatively trivial
>> things" seems to be the more recent meaning. "She's made so many
>> sacrifices" = "She's exhibited extraordinary single-mindedness of effort."
>> At least that's what these words seem to mean to me. And they must mean
>> something.
>> JL
>> On Wed, Aug 1, 2012 at 7:23 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at
>>> wrote:
>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
>>> Subject:      Re: Sacrifice = opportunity cost
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> On Aug 1, 2012, at 9:43 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>>> On Aug 1, 2012, at 4:44 AM, Benjamin Barrett 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 The OED seems to be outdated.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."
>>>>> 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).
>>>> So you're telling me that my assumption that the athletes are referring
>>> to having made burnt offerings of oxen and goats to Zeus before the
>> trials
>>> is unwarranted?  Who knew?
>>> I'm not sure whether this is just a joke, or whether you think that this
>>> meaning of sacrifice is so well embedded in the word as to be unworthy of
>>> note.
>>> I don't know what this word was like 50 years ago, but my sense is that
>>> there is a change.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list