"comb-overed" (a cad, of course)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Aug 16 02:50:20 UTC 2012

It appears I have the intuitive reaction that "comb-over" comes from
a verb form ("to comb over"), whereas "fair-hair" can't.   And
"window" is unlikely as a verb, although it is in the OED (Obs.
rare). So I hiccup at "comb-overed" but have no problem with "fair-haired".

And I have little problem with "windowed", which works whether
"window" is considered a noun or a verb.  I think Arnold's analysis
only applies to compounds, and my hiccup only to compounds where the
first element might be a verb as readily as a noun.

Thanks Arnold and Larry.


At 8/15/2012 10:56 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>On Aug 15, 2012, at 10:30 AM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
> > On Aug 14, 2012, at 5:51 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> >
> >> From a review by Catherine Rampell in the NYTimes today of the play
> >> "Getting the Business":
> >>
> >> "It helps that her new boss, Bert, is the type of comb-overed cad who
> >> likes to give unsolicited career advice while massaging your feet."
> >>
> >> 8,570 Ghits for "comb-overed", vs. some unknown number for a quoted
> >> "combed-over" since that also finds the simple past tense "combed
> >> over".  No instances in the OED of either past-participlean
> >> adjectival form, just the noun phrase (and without the verb "to
> >> comb-over" either).
> >>
> >> I would have constructed "combed-over cad", but what do I know?
> >
> > you're assuming that we're dealing with the PSP (past participle)
> form of the V + Prt verb "comb over / comb-over", in which case the
> inflection would appear on the head, the V "comb" ("combed-over
> cad").  so you're seeing "comb-overed cad" as having the
> externalzation of inflection on V + Prt.  such externalization does
> occur, and i've posted about a number of cases (like "loginned") --
> but maybe something simpler is going on with "comb-overed".
> >
> > namely that it's a derived Adj in "-ed" from the N "comb-over",
> parallel to "windowed" 'having windows, with windows' in "a
> windowed room" and huge numbers of other examples -- so an Adj
> meaning 'having a comb-over, with a comb-over'.
> >
>Maybe supported by its semantic proximity to similarly-haired
>"verandahed"-type adjectives with no verbal base, like
>"long-haired", "brown-haired", "fair-haired" and such.  (The moniker
>'"verandahed"-type' is a nod to W. H. Hirtle's 1969 piece on the
>construction, "-Ed adjectives like _verandahed_ and _blue-eyed_", J.
>of Linguistics 6: 19-36.)  Of course "(un)combed" itself is
>naturally analyzed as deverbal, but we also have "unkempt", which isn't.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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