"pale in comparison to" meaning reversal

hfwstahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 24 14:52:30 UTC 2009

I''m reposting this because Gmail says it was already posted but it
hasn't shown up.  Sorry if there is a double posting.

An interviewer on "The Morning Meeting" just used "pale in comparison"
in a sense opposite to its usual meaning where the subject becomes
less significant than the object of the preposition.  Yahoo Anwers
apparently has the same usage as the interviewer:

However, to say that someone's love for another person pales in
comparison to the hate that someone also feels for the same person
seems kind of conflicted. It is common to describe people having a
"love-hate relationship", but if the love far outweighs the hate, I
might say that their love "conquers" the hate instead of saying it
"pales in comparison." When love conquers hate, the hate is vanquished
and disappears. When love pales in comparison to hate, the hate still
remains even if it is vastly overshadowed by the love.

The person asking about the meaning of the expression responded, "Wow,
Bill. How smart you are :-). Thank you VERY much for this


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

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