"Bold Language"

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Fri May 14 17:09:34 UTC 2010

Arnold Zwicky wrote:

> 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'.

... except that all the citations for this sense given in the OED apply
specifically to bold *women.  The OED definition could be clearer (though
this is hinted at in the term "forward" in it).

The following instance in OED2: -- 4.b. _absol_. An audacious or shameless
person. _Obs_. -- has (significantly?) only one lonely citation.

I think Eoin was pointing to a more gender-neutral positive/negative aspect
to the term in Anglo-Irish.

But I could be wrong.

(The boldness of Young Brennan glanced at in my own post could be seen as
negative [presumptuous] by the English but positive [audacious] by the
Irish, if read in terms of the OED2 sense 4.a definition.)


> 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.
> arnold

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

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