"hard landing"

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Mar 2 14:45:34 UTC 2007

In an aeronautical (and more-or-less literal) sense, the OED defines "hard landing" as "an uncontrolled landing in which the vehicle is destroyed," with citations from 1958 and 1967. Google Books seems to give numerous instances of aviation uses from as early as the second decade of the 20th century, perhaps without the requirement that the vehicle be totally destroyed. (The OED appears to overlook the metaphorical application of the term to economic or monetary matters, prevalent since the 1980s or so.)

Now "hard landing" has become something of a military euphemism (dutifully adopted by the media) to refer to the way a helicopter comes to the ground after it has probably--but, for the moment, deniably--been shot down by enemy fire.


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

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