Dive (was Re: Sad hour)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 11 05:00:44 UTC 2014

On Jan 10, 2014, at 11:41 PM, John Doe wrote:

> My problem isn't with *what* it is, but *why* it is. I can't get a handle
> on calling a bar A "dove" bar.

Another sign of age--being more into chocolate popsicles (albeit high-end ones) than seedy bars.  ;-)


> For me, a dive is necessarily a bar. It's
> possible for a bar not to be a dive, but it's impossible for a dive not to
> be a bar.
> "Tonight, we're not going to a mere bar. Rather, we're going to a *dive*
> bar!"
> My semantic component is left twisting in the wind. I just don't get it.
> Why would anyone feel the need to say anything like that?
> One benefit of dying young is that you don't live long enough to have to
> deal with seeing language-change in progress.
> OTOH, I heard a phrase used just today that I thought had become extinct in
> the '60's. On Springer, a young white woman says of the similar woman upon
> whom she is crushing,
> "She has ass _for days_!"
> "For days" was a phrase that could be used to emphasize the essence of
> anything at all.
> A. "That 'dive(-)bar' thing must be done bugged Wilson's head."
> B. "You ain't said shit, man. For *days*!"
> On Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 8:44 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: Dive (was Re: Sad hour)
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On Jan 8, 2014, at 6:28 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>> At 1/8/2014 03:22 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>>> Of "dive," Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dive) says:
>>>> "(slang) A seedy bar, nightclub, etc."
>>>> Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dive_bar), however, says:
>>>> -----
>>>> A dive bar is an informal bar or pub. Such bars are sometimes
>>>> referred to as neighborhood bars, where local residents gather to
>>>> drink and socialize.
>>>> Individual bars may be considered to be disreputable, sinister, or
>>>> even a detriment to the community. This was especially true in earlier
>> times:
>>>> -----
>>> Having grown up in earlier times (but later than Prohibition!!), I
>>> associate "dive" with something disreputable or potentially
>>> dangerous.  (And not with "informal" or "neighborhood", as Wikipedia
>>> asserts.)  But it may have acquired an upper-crust or posh sense,
>>> perhaps of "unusual" or "interesting because off-beat", more recently.
>>> Joel
>> Is there a term (other than more general terms like "rehabilitation",
>> "reclamation", or "amelioration") for the process in which a pejorative
>> term associated with the lower classes (in both economic and moral senses)
>> is upgraded in this way? (Joel's "interesting because off-beat" gloss often
>> comes close to describing the end-result.)  I'm thinking not only of "dive"
>> for places but "rascal", "scamp", or "rogue" for people, and "raffish" or
>> "louche" for the associated properties.  In each case, the earliest OED
>> cites/glosses are all quite negative, and some of the synonyms of such
>> words (e.g. those descriptors listed in the OED under these headings)
>> haven't been as fortunate:  "sleazy", "creep", "villain",...  "Going rogue"
>> is one thing (and has been since at least 1932), "going
>> villain/unprincipled", if it exists at all, would be something else.  The
>> fact that "dive" and "dive bar" seem to have parted evaluative company is a
>> nice illustration of this randomness in which items!
>>  get pardoned.
>> LH
>>>> I think the second sentence also means "neighborhood bars are
>>>> generally referred to as dives." That is how I understand the word
>>>> "dive," essentially the equivalent of a "tavern," a word I don't
>>>> hear people using much anymore. (In Washington State, a "tavern" is
>>>> defined as a drinking establishment that sells only beer and wine
>>>> (
>> http://dor.wa.gov/Content/DoingBusiness/BusinessTypes/Industry/Tavern/default.aspx
>> ),
>>>> but I am referring to the atmosphere regardless of whether spirits are
>> sold.)
>>>> I would not generally consider a brew pub to be a dive, though there
>>>> probably are places that could convince me of their diviness.
>>>> I'm not sure what VS is talking about exactly, but I suspect this is
>>>> along the lines of a divy brew pub that is, exuding an atmosphere
>>>> below the casual level.
>>>> Nobody else has commented on John Doe's (WG's) interesting
>>>> observation of dive vs. dive bar; this divy development along with
>>>> dive restaurants may be an indication that the word has shifted
>> permanently.
>>>> This leaves the problem of what to call a disreputable bar. Even "a
>>>> shit/shitty hole in the wall" is likely a dysphemism for a divy
>>>> neighborhood tavern/restaurant.
>>>> Benjamin Barrett
>>>> On Jan 7, 2014, at 6:27 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>>>> I've noticed conflicting usage in the last decade or so. One is indeed
>>>>> along GT's outline. But there's a particular "underground" sense
>> where a
>>>>> dive bar would be fashionable among a particular kind of clientele.
>> It's
>>>>> hard to describe, but it cannot be truly upscale, must be fairly well
>>>>> priced, serve particular kinds of drinks, including retro cocktails
>> and
>>>>> exude a certain kind of "dive" atmosphere. Merely calling it
>>>>> "fashionable" is not enough. But it does appear to reflect a common
>> GenY
>>>>> reversal.
>>>>>    VS-)
>>>>> On 1/7/2014 4:07 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>>>>> Good question. It might be a retronym to distinguish it from
>>>> dive restaurants. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dive says "A seedy
>>>> bar, nightclub, etc."
>>>>>> On Jan 7, 2014, at 12:49 AM, John Doe <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>>>>>> On Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 1:54 AM, Benjamin Barrett
>>>> <gogaku at ix.netcom.com>wrote:
>>>>>>>> dive bar
>>>>>>> In what way does a "dive *bar*" distinguish itself from an
>>>> ordinary "dive"?
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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