"Run" vs. "Set"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 7 02:25:16 UTC 2003

I have been having an argument with an acquaintance about which English
word has the greatest number of meanings.  I have been giving the standard
OED answer of "set," but he insists it's "run" because in his dictionary,
the American Heritage, "run" has more senses.

In formulating my latest answer to him, it would help me to understand why
the American Heritage comes out contrary to OED on this point.  Would
people interpret this as meaning that "run" is more polysemous in American
English than it is in British English, or vice-versa with "set"?  Or is
the explanation that "set" has more obscure senses than "run" does, and
that "set" therefore pulls ahead of "run" when a larger dictionary with
more obscure senses is consulted?  Or is there some other explanation?

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

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