"Bold Language"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri May 14 16:29:16 UTC 2010

On May 14, 2010, at 8:56 AM, Eoin C. Bairéad wrote:

> the use of "bold" to mean naughty or badly-behaved is or was a
> standard
> example

"was a standard example"?  where?

> of Hiberno-English, since the same Irish word, d=C3=A1na, could mean
> either audacious (the 'standard' English meaning) or mis-behaved.

so Irish has this sense development.  but so does English, from at
least the 13th century:

[OED2]  4.a. In bad sense: Audacious, presumptuous, too forward; the
opposite of ‘modest’.

i assume that a similar sense development has taken place, internally,
in a great many languages; it's a natural step, which doesn't need the
influence of other languages.

> Is 'bold' meaning 'naughty' now standard in American English?

well, 'immodest' has been around in English (not specifically American
English) for a very long time.  OED2 doesn't list a specialization to
'sexually immodest' or 'indecorous in language', though maybe it should.


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

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