"pale in comparison to" meaning reversal

Ann Burlingham ann at BURLINGHAMBOOKS.COM
Thu Sep 24 15:44:33 UTC 2009

On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 10:52 AM, hfwstahlke <hfwstahlke at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       hfwstahlke <hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "pale in comparison to" meaning reversal
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.

I think the answerer understood the usage, but miswrote his answer,
combining the two elements awkwardly.

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