virtually and literally outdated metaphors

Derrick Chapman derrickchapman at MINDSPRING.COM
Tue Jun 27 13:03:39 UTC 2000

"Burn rubber" for automobiles.
"down the line" for trains.

The Shakespearean "hoist on his own petard" for mining.

I don't think they are outdated, just apt to be used even when their
original context is not clearly recognized by the user.

By the way, have you noticed how the word "literally" is often used to mean
its exact opposite?  One day my wife told me her principal had "literally
torn this teacher up in an argument!"

Kinda like "virtually" sometimes means "except for the fact that it isn't,
it is."

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Robert S. Wachal
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2000 7:45 AM
Subject: outdated metaphors

In today's NYTimes an article on technospeak lists some outdated metaphors:

Earlier technological developments left their mark on the language. The
          railroads gave rise to expressions like "going off the rails" and
          sidetracked"; the steam engine produced "working up a head of
          and "full steam ahead"; and the automobile left us with "pedal to
          metal," "firing on all cylinders" and "eatin' concrete."

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