"Search" as a mass noun

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Tue Jun 19 04:31:28 UTC 2012

As I listened to last week's episode of Lexicon Valley (which was a great
episode, BTW; it showed how Ben and other language anachronism watchers for
Mad Men and Downton Abbey have just scratched the surface), host Mike Vuolo
broke to deliver the sponsor message from Bing. He said: "Everybody uses
search; we've been using it for years." Also, the pre-show sponsor message
said, "Only Bing brings together the best of search with Facebook and

When I finished listening to that podcast, I listened to the TechStuff
podcast, whose title this week is "The Future of Search".

This usage of "search" to mean "an application for searching the internet"
(not ordinary searching in the physical world) reminds me of mass nouns for
utilities, such as "water, gas, and electricity." Has anyone else been
noticing it?


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

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