Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Fri Jan 8 16:21:31 UTC 2010

There are a lot of people who would be very happy to see certain provisions
of the Patriot Act go, to take one example.

I would say the operative difference is that "sunset" inherently includes
the notion of a potential extension (it can rise again). "Expiration" does
not necessarily contain the expectation of possible extension, e.g., the
milk in your refrigerator "expires," it does not "sunset."

Also, of course, "sunset" is primarily used for legislation.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 7:57 AM
Subject: Re: sunset

The difference between "sunset" and "expire" seems to be that when things
"sunset," you're supposed to be so sad to see them go.


On Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 10:39 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: sunset
> On Jan 7, 2010, at 5:55 PM, Herb Stahlke wrote:
> > ... I
> > got 41k raw googits for "will sunset," putting the search string in
> > quotes.  After scanning the first ten pages I would guess that maybe
> > 30-40 percent were transitive or intransitive verbs meaning "terminat,
> > expire."
> and the "sunset provision" verb has a subentry (of the general
> "sunset" entry) in OED2, where it's marked as north american.  there
> are cites for both intransitive and transitive uses, from 1978 on.
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