add to the Rolodex

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 5 15:26:54 UTC 2011

On Thu, May 5, 2011 at 11:18 AM, victor steinbok  wrote:
> David Bernstein (of the Volokh Conspiracy) complains about what he perceives
> to obsolete usage in received communication:
> I received a promotional postcard from X Law School, bragging about one of
> > its professors. The text of the card starts, β€œIt would be wise to add
> > [Professor ___] to your Rolodex. Because nobody knows more about training a
> > new generation of lawyers than she does.”
> > Rolodex?
> > I half expected the postcard to conclude with the tag line, β€œX Law School:
> > Preparing Our Students for the Twentieth Century.”
> [...]
> Still, I believe, overall, Rolodex "has become somewhat genericized" (Wiki
> language) and the phrase "add to the Rolodex" is nearly idiomatic.
> Complaints about its twentieth century origin seem to be more complaints
> about etymology than about usage.

Note also the persistence of extended/figurative variations on the
theme, such as "mental Rolodex" (55K ghits).


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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