Storms are breaking

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 14 22:19:00 UTC 2009

I think he goofed, but the real horror is that I hadn't noticed till I read
this twice.

It must be because we think of "clouds" breaking, and storms issue from
clouds (except at the beginning of _The Last Wave_).

But in a sense it's also an auto-antonym, or could be seen that way. The
presence of the word "past" makes it hard to misinterpret, though.


On Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 3:26 PM, Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
> Subject:      Storms are breaking
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> CNN is quoting the President this afternoon as saying:
> 'We can be confident that the storms of the past two years are beginning to
> break.'
> That struck me as odd, since that's not what I think he meant,
> so I looked it up in the Cobuild Dictionary Online, where it says
> verb 'If the weather breaks or a storm breaks , it suddenly becomes rainy
> or stormy after a period of sunshine.
> I've been waiting for the weather to break...' V
> so, is 'the storm is breaking' one of those auto-antonyms?  Or did Obama's
> speechwriter goof?
> Geoff
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program
> +1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
> +1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

"There You Go Again...Using Reason on the Planet of the Duck-Billed

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list