rout (Re: out of context)

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 30 01:15:26 UTC 2008

On Jan 29, 2008 10:16 AM, David Bowie <db.list at> wrote:

> From:    "JAMES A. LANDAU Netscape. Just the Net You Need."
> > An interesting little exercise:
> >
> > begins "In the aftermath of Barack Obama's rout in South Carolina,"
> > If these ten words were the only report you had of the Democratic
> > primary in South Carolina Saturday, you would of course understand
> > that the results were one-sided, but would you be able to determine
> > whether Obama was the runaway winner or the routed loser?
> I might be overthinking this, and i never really believe my own
> introspective judgments, but i think Obama has to be the runaway winner,
> given that sentence.
> If Team A routs Team B, Team A has won; the way to refer to is as a noun
> would be "Team A's rout". Context can overcome this, of course, but i
> think the default is for the winner to be the agent.
> --
> David Bowie                               University of Central Florida

1. Apparently not.
2. OED doesn't seem to cover the financial sense...
3. ... or the old "fashionable party" sense.

I Googled for "'s rout" and looked at the first 100 hits out of about
13,300, following links to original stories where applicable and omitting

   - duplicates of the same story or phrase-and-context, such as multiple
   mentions of "Barack Obama's rout"
   - uses including "rout of/over X", including a painting called "The
   Rout of San Romano" where X is a placename (BTW, this use with "over"
   deserves a look by someone)
   - proper names (lots of Allen S. Rout) and code (variable called rout)
   - use as "fashionable party" ([Ch. 10 of The Scarlet Pimpernel:] Lady
   Blakeney's Rout. There are several accounts extant, in the fashionable
   chronicles of the time, of the gorgeous reception given that autumn by ...)
   - links that failed, wouldn't load, etc.

With those exclusions, I found 15 relevant examples of "N's rout", divided
almost equally between positive senses  'N wins/gains/improves' (8) and
negative senses 'N loses/deteriorates' (7):

Late rally keys Celts' rout [Celts win]
Weekend Muse; Barack Obama's Rout Impressive, But Meaningless :: The Cougar
Online [Obama wins]
The Denver Post - Stars rest in Denver's rout [Denver wins]<>
Mora finishes the job in Washington's rout - [Washington wins]
Spurrier's rout at Duke not forgotten at UNC [Spurrier was playing for Duke,
which beat UNC] -- Game 7: UT's 4 miscues aid Kent's rout [Kent wins]
'Black Tuesday' not revisited in Red and Blue's rout - Sports [Penn (Red &
Blue) wins]
Onepub » Blog Archive » Summers paces No. 7 Georgetown's rout (AP)
[Georgetown wins]

Oil's Rout Outpaces Its Advance - New York Times [Oil prices drop]
SN: Buckeyes must let go of last year's rout - College football-[Buckeyes lost]
My missing execution: Custer's rout » Sedition·com [Custer's men didn't just
lose, they were slaughtered]
SEE GRAVE CRISIS IN ITALY'S ROUT; Washington Experts Fear the Possibil... -
Article Preview - The New York Times [Italian forces on the run (1917)]
Chandrababu Naidu resigns after TDP's rout [TDP loses elections]
Profit from the tumbling dollar [dollar loses value]
... Mike Lenhoff of Brewin Dolphin Securities, a stockbroker, agreed that
the greenback's rout was not necessarily negative for world markets.
NDA's rout in polls hits markets hard - Deccan Herald [NDA defeated in

In all but one of these examples the phrase is in the page title, usually a
headline, which confirms what we all thought: that the word is popular
mostly among headline writers trying to save ens.

Semantically, only 1 of the positive cases is political, the one that
started this inquiry; the other 7 refer to sports. Among the negatives there
is only 1 sports reference, the rest being equally divided between war,
politics, and finance (2 each).

Sport and politics are clear extensions of the root military sense, OED
rout, n.2:
    1. Disorderly or precipitate retreat on the part of a defeated army,
body of troops, etc.
        b. Esp. in phr. *to put to (the) rout.*
    2. An instance of this; a complete overthrow and flight.
    3. A defeated and fleeing band or army.

But in the financial cases we have loss of value without any obvious
conflict, let alone a winner or inflicter of the loss, a use not mentioned
or implied in any of the OED's quotations, even the transferences and
figurative uses.

Incidentally, without more context it's impossible to tell whether OED's
quotation --

   *1667* PEPYS <> *
Diary* 1 Sept., Sir H. Cholmly tells me there are hopes that the women also
will have a rout.

-- given under sense 2 as figurative, properly belongs here at all; and if
not, it's an orphan. In its 10 separate entries for "rout, n" (most of them
Scottish, obsolete, and/or dubious), the closest OED has to the 'fashionable
gathering' sense (3 in M-W's rout[1, noun]<>)
is under rout, n.1:
    I. 1. A company, assemblage, band, or troop of persons. Now chiefly
in such quotations as
  *a1839 *PRAED Poems (1864) II. 39 And now, amid that female rout, What
scandal doth he buzz about?
  *1866-7 *J. THOMSON Naked Goddess 25 All the people swarming out, Young
and old a joyous rout.

Mark Mandel

More information about the Ads-l mailing list