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Tuesday
Oct112011

What Do You Hear; What Do You Say?

I have, heaven help me, been Reading a lot of Dickens lately--American Notes, Martin Chuzzlewit, Oliver Twist and now Our Mutual Friend.  I've never been a big fan, and this latest burst of Dickensing hasn't done much to alter that, though there are some wonderful things to be found in there if you are patient and persistant enough.  But that's not I wanted to talk about. Several times, ol' Chuck D. uses the expression "bran new". I also remember seeing it in Mark Twain's writing and now that I think about it, have heard a lot of people pronouncing it that way. I have always said (and written)"brand new" myself, but neither adjective makes obvious sense as a modifier of "new". Why "brand"? Or "bran", for that matter?

According to Visual Thesaurus.com, "brand new" has been around somewhat longer; it appeared in the text of a sermon by one John Foxe in1570. They speculate that the "brand" part refers to a firebrand newly snatched from the fire. That sounds a little shaky to me, but I can't think of a better explanation off the top of my head. "Bran new" first appeared in print almost a century later in 1664. Dictionaries over the years have listed both forms but, when a preference is stated it is almost always in favor of the "brand" construction.

Also in Dickens are references to "blind man's buff", which is the way I learned to say it; but over the years I've heard many more people use "blind man's BLUFF". Again, neither word makes obvious sense, so there's no logical right or wrong choice.  Which do you say? And while we're on the subject; when you're gunning for somebody, do you have it "IN" for them, or "OUT" for them? I hear that second more and more.  And when something happens in an instant, is it "all of a sudden" or "all of THE sudden"? Are these things regional? Cultural? Generational? Do you know of a similar word or phrase? These are not rhetorical questions--looking for some feedback here, people.

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    What Do You Hear; What Do You Say? - The Logovore's Dilemma Blog - Area 24 Radio : Handmade. Freeform. Worldwide
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    What Do You Hear; What Do You Say? - The Logovore's Dilemma Blog - Area 24 Radio : Handmade. Freeform. Worldwide
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    What Do You Hear; What Do You Say? - The Logovore's Dilemma Blog - Area 24 Radio : Handmade. Freeform. Worldwide
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    What Do You Hear; What Do You Say? - The Logovore's Dilemma Blog - Area 24 Radio : Handmade. Freeform. Worldwide
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Reader Comments (2)

Brand new - Buff - In for them - All of a sudden. It's just the way I've always said all of these and I can't imagine changing things up now.

October 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Brand new to me --

blind man's bluff is what I thought I had been hearing all along -- to me it was from something like a blind man with a gun in his hand threatening to shoot an intruder -- and who would call his bluff? Unless they knew that he was blind?

My enemy had it in for me for a long time. --- put the following phrase in google

"he really had it in for me" 10.5 million hits

then try

"he really had it out for me" only a half a million hits

All the sudden the wind changed and our little sailboat nearly capsized.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob

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