The word "right" for a coincidence that is bad

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 13 00:39:45 UTC 2013

There is an idiom "in the wrong place at the wrong time" that seems to
refer to a negative coincidence. Here is link to a web page at The
Free Dictionary:

Here is an instance of a person "in the wrong place, at the wrong time":

[ref] 1918, Soldiers of the Legion: Trench Etched by Legionnaire Bowe
by John Bowe and Charles L. MacGregor, Quote Page 142, Press of
Peterson Linotyping Co., Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books full view)

[Begin excerpt]
Another shell drops, - a man stood there, - he goes up, - he was in
the wrong place, at the wrong time, - and out of luck. Why worry?
There are too many shells, and the one that gets you is the one you
will never see.
[End excerpt]

There are earlier instances, but this one seemed particularly vivid.


On Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 6:21 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      The word "right" for a coincidence that is bad
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> When discussing the "right" conditions for a coincidence to occur, there is a tendency to correct the word "right" if the coincidence is not favorable, but AFAIK, nobody just says "in the wrong conditions," because that would be misleading.
> I can't imagine trying to search for this, so perhaps it has been discussed and FWIW.
> I have a quote from Humphrey Carter, I believe, from the "Making of" Blue-Rays of the "Lord of the Rings." It's in the Fellowship set and I can find the exact position if anyone is interested. The quote:
> -----
> And in fact, under the right circumstances--I should say, the wrong circumstances--it will be you.
> -----
> He's discussing that in the story, anyone could be tempted by the Ring.
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list