[Ads-l] Phrase: [Word] is doing a lot of work

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 29 01:13:15 UTC 2021

Science historian James Gleick asked an interesting question on
twitter a few hours ago that may be pertinent to this mailing list.


[Begin excerpt]
I would like a lexicographer to tell me about the phrase “is doing a
lot of work there,” as applied to a word.

“The word ‘merely’ is doing a lot of work there.”

When did that start?
[End excerpt]

A scientist saw Gleick's inquiry and signaled me. Now I am relaying
this question to this mailing list.

In order to be helpful, I quickly interrogated JSTOR and found the two
matches below which I tweeted. I did not attempt to interpret this
construct, and would welcome your analysis.

Date: Winter 1999
Journal: The Threepenny Review
Article: The Triple Thinker
Author: P. N. Furbank


[Begin excerpt]
"Travail" is doing a lot of work here; it is the mot juste, but a word
that Newman or Coleridge could perfectly well have used.
[End excerpt]

Journal: Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Date: Dec. 2000
Article: New Directions in Ethics: Naturalisms, Reasons and Virtue
Author: Soran Reader

[Begin excerpt]
But 'education' here is doing a lot of work: it is richly understood,
as no less than the creating and shaping of the virtuous person in
[End excerpt]


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

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