the Machine (UNCLASSIFIED)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Dec 9 17:34:20 UTC 2010

On Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 11:10 AM, Paul Frank wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 4:51 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
>>> One of the senses of the word "machine" in the OED is this: "10. orig.
>>> U.S. Â [Compare sense 6b.] The controlling organization of a political
>>> party or similar body; any organization or group displaying impressive
>>> or ruthless efficiency." But I don't think that's quite what The
>>> Machine means here (see below). Or is it?
>>> WikiLeaks vs The Machine
>>> US government tells firms to pull plug on whistleblowing website as
>>> hackers cause chaos with revenge attacks on Assange's 'enemies'
>> <>
>> Isn't the first sense in OED appropriate here? Â See particularly the
>> 1829 quote.
> Not really in my opinion:
> a. A material or immaterial structure, esp. the fabric of the world or
> of the universe; a construction or edifice. Now rare.
> 1829    R. Hall Wks. (1832) VI. 457   The mind casts its eye over the
> whole machine of society.
> I think that here the Machine means, as pointed out earlier, the
> Establishment. The cabal that pulls the strings.

Much like the band name, Rage Against the Machine? (But not,
presumably, like the band name Florence and the Machine.)


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list