Antedating of "Perfect Game"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Tue May 25 15:21:07 UTC 2010

On Tue, May 25, 2010 at 11:10:02AM -0400, Laurence Horn wrote:
> My problem with the analogy between the use of "perfect game" in the
> early 20th c. cites and that of, say, "shutout" today, is that while
> one could naturally say "his bid for a ___ was spoiled when he gave
> up a homer in the 8th" in either case, the locution "he pitched a
> ____ with the exception of a homer in the 8th" seems odd today.  But
> it was evidently a standard locution in the past--for "perfect game",
> not necessarily for "shutout", indicating that the meaning of
> "perfect game" has indeed changed.

I wonder [and I really am just idly wondering, I haven't
looked into this at all] whether our notion of _perfect_ as
being always nonmodifiable has increased through the century
under the weight of prescriptive insistence of this fact.
Once, "a more perfect union" was fine, now you couldn't get
away with writing the equivalent.

So perhaps 100 years ago "perfect except for..." wouldn't have
been such a big deal.

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list