James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Fri Apr 19 17:57:54 UTC 2002

In a message dated Fri, 19 Apr 2002  1:25:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time, "A. Maberry" <maberry at U.WASHINGTON.EDU> writes:

>This morning on NPR someone being interviewed use the phrase: "behooves
>the question". Short for "behooves one to ask the question"? Anyone else
>heard the usage "behoove the question"?

Literally, to put a hoof or hooves onto.

Case 1: cloven hoof.  Since a question cannot chew the cud, the intent cannot be to make the question Kosher.  Hence the hooves are those of the Devil, and the intent is, as President Clinton did so often, to demonize the opponent.

Case 2: non-cloven hoof.  The only such that modern city-dwellers are at all familiar with is the horse's hoof, which again to modern city-dwellers is always shod with a horseshoe.  The intent is to imply that the question, while off-target, is sufficiently close to be answered, as in that old saying, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."

     - James A. Landau
       systems engineer
       FAA Technical Center (ACB-510/BCI)
       Atlantic City Airport NJ 08405

>maberry at

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