Tuesday, February 21, 2006

'Down,' Boy!

Knockdown is one word. Rundown is one word. But you might have a knock-down, drag-out fight in a run-down neighborhood.

See what's happening here? The space-hyphen-solid decision is complicated by a coincidental word, and the difference is a lot more subtle, and likely to fool even experienced word people, than, say, bare foot (n.) vs. barefoot (adj., adv.).

A rundown, obviously, is a summary -- nothing to do with decrepitude. But a knock-down fight involves knockdowns. You might even dispute my contention that the solid form does not apply, but I think the juxtaposition with drag-out makes the truth clear.

Do any other examples come to mind? Heck the linguists probably even have a cute term for the phenomenon. If not, let's make one up.


DV said...

Is it possible those westerners are using "knockdown" to mean "insult" when they could be using "putdown" instead?

Bill said...

I'm afraid I've been preoccupied with the ACES board's civil war.

kelly-lynne said...

You can always roll over your 401(k) without pentalty by abiding to the IRA Rollover rules according to the IRS.