[Ads-l] the over-under

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 19 17:03:32 UTC 2016

On Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 12:40 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> This past week I've heard the phrase "the over-under" several times on
> cable news.
> Ex.: "So what's the over-under? What happens?"
> Seems to mean "reliable inside information; lowdown."
> Wikipedia shows its clear origin in sports betting.

Checking recent CNN transcripts, "over/under" tends to be used in the way
you'd expect from sports betting -- specifying a number at which there
would be even odds if you wagered on the over or the under.

BALDWIN: He talks unity. Obviously, he needs to talk about, you know, he's
very concerned about the down ballot race. But how many times does he
mention Trump's name?
SEAT: Well, I say the over-under is 4.5.
SMERCONISH: Jeffrey, what's the over/under on how times he says his name?
Five? I mean, that's the question.
COX: So I - well, I'm curious about that. So in this, you know, speech
we're about to watch, what's the over/under for like how many new ideas or
policy proposals he puts out?

I suppose if people don't understand the source of the expression, they
could reinterpret "what's the over/under on..." to mean something like
"what's the lowdown on..."


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