Dead Reckoning

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Tue Jul 24 13:34:02 UTC 2001

> There's also "dead red", "dead spit", "dead to rights", etc., all
> apparently corresponding to AHD4's sense 12c, 'exact' and possibly
> its cousins:
> 12a. Sudden; abrupt: a dead stop.
> b. Complete; utter: dead silence.
> c. Exact; unerring. the dead center of a target.
> I'm not sure how this sense or bundle of senses derives from the
> standard (= 'no longer alive') one, although speculation is rife.
> Anyone?

I had always thought that these various "dead"s were in the broad
sense 'absolute; complete', in reference to death being the final
step in, uh, life. There's a lot of history, both linguistic and
otherwise, behind this viewpoint.

Jesse Sheidlower

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