A new collective noun: "astonishment"

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 9 05:14:29 UTC 2010

On Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 10:55 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> At 9:39 AM -0500 12/20/09, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>Very interesting, and unfortunately supported by evidence.
>>I confess that when I think back on "an astonishment of riches," I associate
>>it somehow with a cultured, enthusiastic, ever-so-slightly condescending
>>female voice on NPR, date quite unknown. Â I also associate it with CNN
>>somehow. Â These connections indeed suggest an N.Y. Times origin in 2002, as
>>the nattering classes hop on the latest striking phrase to help them
>>keep their jobs.
>>OTOH, besides sounding far more familiar, "an embarrassment of
>>riches" rings absolutely no associational bells, suggesting that it much
>>older in my experience.
> I seem to recall it as a calque on "embarras de
> richesse", probably some time ago. Â (Of course,
> "riches" < "richesse" is a classic reanalysis,
> around 8 centuries old.)
> LH
>>>  Isn't the leading cliché here "an embarrassment
>>> Â of riches"? Â  I've never heard the "astonishment"
>>> Â version.
>>> Â LH

I just looked up "plethora" and Princeton's Wordnet gave me this:

overplus: extreme excess; "an embarrassment of riches"


Or through Google: [define: plethora]


Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
Manchu studies: http://www.bjshengr.com/manchu
Chinese characters: http://www.bjshengr.com/yuwen

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list