[Ads-l] when = 'if'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 29 17:55:55 UTC 2015

OED when, def. 8a ends by saying "sometimes nearly = 'if.'"

Cites go back to ca1175.

There is, however what I take to be a recent usage that goes further and
 essentially equals "if."

Current TV commercial:

"When you're a cat, you ignore people. It's what you do."

I.e., you ignore people "if" you're a cat. "When" implies there are times
when you're not.

Which is never, if you're a cat.

"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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