incestuous = 'objectionably reciprocal in social or intellectual terms'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 15 16:15:50 UTC 2010

At 10:51 AM -0500 12/15/10, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Right, everybody knows this.  Unfortunately, OED places it vaguely, with no
>def., under 2c "Fig." with an 1869 from D.G.Rosetti, where the metaphor of
>real incest is explicit - but not another till 1971, when the current nuance
>is full-blown.
>Here's a big gap-filler:
>1943 James Agee in _The Nation_ (July 17) 82:  [T]he difficult question of
>the proper and the incestuous relationship, in any work of art or
>entertainment, between nature and artifice.
>I mean, where's the "incest"?
Well, if artifice is an offspring of nature (perhaps with Mother
Nature as the dam, man's mind the sire),...  OK, it's a bit of a
stretch.  Let us now praise famous men instead.


The American Dialect Society -

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