bailout/bale out; or: planes, boats, and MW

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 26 21:12:28 UTC 2008

At 3:47 PM -0500 11/26/08, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 3:05 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
>>  I was listening to the host of NPR's "Fresh Air" this afternoon at
>>  about 12:45 EST talking to Peter Sokolowski, described by her as the
>>  Editor at Large of the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, about (I
>>  think) its 10 words-of-the-year.  They were just speaking of
>>  "bailout", as in "rescue package for bankers, etc.", and he noted the
>>  origin in "bail out of an airplane".  She then commented that of
>>  course there is also "bail out a boat" (of course I didn't know how
>>  she was spelling either).
>>  Mr. Sokolowski did not then discuss the complexities of the two,
>>  "bale" vs. "bail".  (Which I believe were previously discussed here.)
>And here:
There's also (not mentioned in these discussions) the intransitive
baseball use, in which a hitter is said to "bail out" on, say, a
curve ball, backing out of the way of a pitch that looks inside but
eventually finds its way over the plate for a strike.  This may
contribute to the financial uses in that bailing out is often seen as
an act of cowardice on the part of a batter who should hang in there,
despite the apparent risk, and take his chances.


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