[Ads-l] "hinged"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 30 15:32:27 EDT 2016

I like "false positive," but the term I've most often seen is "lost
positive." This was apparently coined back in the 1950s by one David
McCord, founder of The Society for the Restoration of Lost Positives:


The term was further popularized by William and Mary Morris (it shows up in
their 1975 Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage).

Of course, "lost" implies that the positive once was found, but as Larry
can tell us, a lot of the positive forms are ex-post-facto back-formations.


On Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 2:45 PM, Geoffrey Nunberg <nunbergg at gmail.com>

> "This is not a hinged human being.” John Avlon on CNN, referring to…
> Like ‘gruntled,’ ‘kempt’ etc. What does one call these — just
> back-formations? I sort of like “false positives,” but I imagine that has
> already occurred to someone. Most things have.
> Geoff

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

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