[Ads-l] New Sense of the Noun "Primary"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 10 12:54:23 UTC 2020

Four years ago I pointed out that there was a new sense of the political noun "primary."  No one else seemed to have noticed it.  Now the new sense is continuing to gain in currency.

Traditionally a "primary" meant a single election in a single state or single smaller unit helping to qualify candidates for a party nomination.  The new sense denotes the entire season of nationwide individual state qualifying elections.  For example, a headline in the Atlantic reads: "The Democrats' Age Divide Is Defining the 2020 Primary."

Fred Shapiro

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

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