"on the improve"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Nov 25 06:38:19 UTC 2012

On 11/25/2012 12:43 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> Al Michaels on the Patriots before their Thanksgiving night game:
> "The defense is suspect and vulnerable, but appears to be on the improve."   ["on the IM-prove", as in "on the UPswing"]
> (Sorry if we've already rehashed this one, but I can't remember hashing it in the first place.)

Strange stress aside, this seems analogous to "on the mend" = "mending",
also to "on the run" = "running", etc., etc.

MW3 shows <<on the mend ...: in the way of improvement>>.

The new Partridge dictionary apparently shows this "[on the] improve" as
Australian slang from 1959, with a citation from 1989.

Google Books shows comparable "on the improve" in a published letter
(Zora Neale Hurston) dated 1955.

At N'archive I see multiple examples of comparable "on the improve" =
"improving" back to 1829 (UK).

-- Doug Wilson

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

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