[Ads-l] "Read the room"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 20 10:27:11 EDT 2021


Perhaps "reading a room" was derived via a generalization mechanism
from "reading an individual".  Below is a 1971 citation for reading a
person.

Date: April 20, 1971
Newspaper: Pottsville Republican
Newspaper Location: Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Article: Horoscope
Author: Stella Wilder
Quote Page 13, Column 4
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Although you are intelligent enough to argue and win the point, you
take no pleasure out of battles of wits. You would prefer to read a
good book than to try to read another person, just as you would favor
an evening of good music over an evening of listening to views with
which you find it impossible to agree.
[End excerpt]

On Wed, May 19, 2021 at 5:14 PM Dennis During <dcduring at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Wiktionary has: "to understand the emotions and thoughts of the people
> present" with 'read the table' as a synonym.
>
> Related is 'work the room'
>
> If either were to appear in MSDs, I'd expect them as run-ins at the entry
> for 'room'.
>
> On Wed, May 19, 2021 at 5:03 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
>
> > To quote gloss and two sample sentences provided by The Free Dictionary::
> >
> > 'To use one's intuition to analyze the general mood of the people in a
> > particular setting and act accordingly. Often used as an imperative.'
> >
> > I'll read the room and see if it's the right time to have the
> > conversation. If people already seem on edge, I'll probably wait to bring
> > it up.
> >
> > Read the room, James. No one here is interested in talking politics right
> > now.
> >
> >
> > I was wondering when this originated and when it caught on again to show
> > up in commercials.  Does anyone know?  I’m assuming that since it’s not
> > really a word (even by our extended WOTY-style definition), it won’t show
> > up in back issues of Among the New Words, but someone here might have
> > tracked it.  If I had to guess, the guess would involve usage by stand-up
> > comedians.
> >
> > LH
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
>
> --
> Dennis C. During
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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