I'm a-walkin' in the rain / Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
September 27, 2019 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Well, I think it has to do with - this was my take on it, and Peter over in Oxford seemed to agree - it is a feature of our more sort of energetic and frantic times that set and put seem, in a peculiar way, sort of rather stodgy, rather conservative, whereas run, not least all the meanings that have come from the Industrial Revolution - machines run, clocks run, computers run - there are all of those which began in the middle of the 19th century, I suppose.

I enjoyed this article, and I very much like Simon Winchester, but I'm sorta skeptical of this depiction of language change as such a conscious process, or something dependent on aesthetics and the zeitgeist. Slang can be this calculated, but with something like "run" it seems more like extremely fertile metaphorical drift.

I'm also assuming many of those 645 meanings include phrasal verbs, which is gaming the count a little... we think of phrasal verbs as variations on a main verb, and while that's helpful if you need to look them up in a dictionary, I wouldn't allow them in the count... just as the meaning of "run" cannot be determined from analysis of its constituent phonemes, you can't really figure out the difference between "run up" (create something, spend a lot of money) and "run down" (hunt and capture, insult or belittle) from analyzing the two words each contains. You just have to know. They're really separate verbs from plain ol' run (whose count would still probably run into the hundreds).
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:50 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I was about 10 or 11 and got caught running in the school halls my teacher made me write out the dictionary entry for "run" as punishment.
What I'm saying is this FPP needs a trigger warning.
posted by rocket88 at 9:01 AM on September 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

This confirms my childhood discovery, when I was a kid who liked to read the dictionary.
posted by the_blizz at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ctrl-F DMC

simon, you missed one.
posted by chavenet at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ctrl-F DMC

simon, you missed one.

That leads me to a question. The 645 definitions refers to the verb tense alone, which means that having 'the runs' for example would not be included since that is a noun form.

Is the 'Run' in Run DMC used in the verb tense in the name as in "Run, DMC" or the noun sense?

I know one of the members is Reverend Run, so I'd guess noun before, but now I'm not so sure.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:42 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

The_Vegetables: "Is the 'Run' in Run DMC used in the verb tense in the name as in "Run, DMC" or the noun sense?"

Well, it's tricky.
posted by chavenet at 11:07 AM on September 27, 2019 [22 favorites]

And I wonder. I wo-wo-wo-wonder
why why why why why
She ran away...

Sorry, but now I have an earworm. (Pausing for the organ break...)
posted by CCBC at 4:25 PM on September 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

I know what it means to load your BASIC
From a long time ago
Oh, darling
It keeps you RUN-ning
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:50 PM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

This reminded me of a timeless bit of advice, set to music in the early 60s: Keep Away from Run-around Sue.

She likes to travel around, yeah
She'll love you and she'll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
She goes out with other guys
posted by she's not there at 12:02 AM on September 28, 2019

back in grade school we were assigned to copy out dictionary entries as punishment. Everyone dreaded getting "run".
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 9:13 AM on September 28, 2019

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