[Ads-l] New (to me) negative polarity item--"(not) have the bandwidth" as metaphor

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Jun 20 18:14:50 UTC 2016

It's at least 20 years old.

>From The Jargon File (4.4.7), 29 Dec 2003 (That's the version that's online
now; I don't know when this entry was written):

"bandwidth: n.

"1. [common] Used by hackers (in a generalization of its technical meaning)
as the volume of information per unit time that a computer, person, or
transmission medium can handle. 'Those are amazing graphics, but I missed
some of the detail - not enough bandwidth, I guess.' Compare low-bandwidth;
see also brainwidth. This generalized usage began to go mainstream after the
Internet population explosion of 1993-1994. 

"2. Attention span. 

"3. On Usenet, a measure of network capacity that is often wasted by people
complaining about how items posted by others are a waste of bandwidth."

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Laurence Horn
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2016 1:12 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] New (to me) negative polarity item--"(not) have the
bandwidth" as metaphor

Here's urban dictionary:

ability (or lack of ability) to complete work given the available resources
(people, time, money, etc.)

Since we can't afford to replace the guy who just quit, our department
doesn't have enough bandwidth to take on new projects right now. 

Joe's so overworked, he doesn't even have the bandwidth to train his new

#work #time #ability #capacity #workload by amphora October 25, 2006

My daughter (age 31) just used it in referring to a friend who, given her
12-hour shifts at her new nursing job, "doesn't have the bandwidth" for
various other things.  Not being 31 (and not having a boyfriend at Google),
I'd never encountered metaphorical bandwidth before.  I haven't checked
"Among The New Words", which probably has a relevant decade-old entry.  

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

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

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