original = 'most notable'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 24 13:15:48 UTC 2012

OED's entry on "original" needs work at def. 2b: "(of a person): that is so
by birth or nature born." A note adds, "Originally with allusion to the
idea of original sin; later in extended use."

"Extended use" is something of an understatement. CNN has just described
the late Larry Hagman (not his character the evil JR) as "TV's original bad

There's a clear break between OED's 1724-1890 exx. and those from 1966 and
1993. The earlier exx. are construed with "an" rather than "the," and
indeed they seem to imply a congenital condition.  The modern exx. do not.

E.g., Defoe, 1720: "I...was...an original Thief, and a Pyrate,...by

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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