Captured Same

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Mon May 17 02:43:27 UTC 2010

In a WWII-era Tom and Jerry cartoon (I think it's called "Yankee Doodle
Mouse," but I'm too lazy to go downstairs and find the DVD it's on and
check), at one point Jerry sends a telegram to his commanders to report that
his mission was accomplished. The wording went something like: "Found enemy
cat, captured same." I wondered if this was some kind of diction of a bygone
era, with "same" used where I'd've said "it". But here's a headline from the
website for Aviation Week, dated Sept. 23, 2008:

Sighted Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible Drug Runner, Captured Same

So is this a military thing instead? Why use "same", when "it" (or "him" or
"her") does the same job in an unstressed pronoun with (regarding telegrams)
fewer letters?

Neal Whitman
Email: nwhitman at

The American Dialect Society -

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