another reversal?

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue May 17 13:14:04 UTC 2011

And to make the house cooler in the summer, do we turn the air conditioning up or down?


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of victor steinbok [aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 8:43 PM

For years I've had a hard time telling whether "with the top down" in a
convertible meant that the roof was over your head or neatly folded in the
back. Most of the time, I had assumed that "with the top down" meant that it
was folded. Then, today, I see in blog comments:

In the 90's I drove a LeBaron convertible _with_the_top_down_ on any day it
> wasn't raining - viz was GREAT because I could see right over the top of the
> windshield (_with_the_top_down_ I had to duck to see stoplights).

Since the issue is visibility and not tall people sticking out of the car
(although the driver is 6-4), in the second instance, "with the top down"
means that the top is up, so it blocks overhead traffic lights for a tall
driver.  But since the meaning is opposite in the beginning of the sentence,
this might just be wrong word choice. On the other hand, I've encountered
instances of "with the top down" where it was meant as "with the top up. The
reverse, however, is not going to be found.


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