[Ads-l] "best" as invariable modal verb

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 10 16:40:02 UTC 2017

For Language Log, I wrote about Trump's threat, "North Korea best not...":


Towards the end there's a 66-year antedating of OED3 "best" v.2 (1900 ->

1834 Charles Augustus Davis _Letters of J. Downing, Major_ 256 'Well,' says
Mr. Van Buren, it's a pretty severe letter, but we best not translate it --
I'll read it as it is, with pleasure.'


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

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