April 13, 2004

The OED: never leave home without it

Well, I should have known better than to comment on a striking word usage without checking both Google and the OED. I've criticized others on this score, and now I'm caught myself.

When Fernando wrote in this morning about " hackers lurk through holes in hot spots", I did google "lurk through", as Fernando had done. But being almost late for my 9:00 a.m. class, I left out the OED. And of course it turns out that "[n]ot only is lurk through not a malapropism, it's not even a neologism", as Q_pheevr at "A Roguish Chrestomathy" has pointed out, citing a "delightfully alliterative example" from Pier Ploughman (1393) of "lurking through lanes." Well, "[l]orkynge þorw lanes", actually, but you get the idea. Q also observes that "hackers lurk through holes in hot spots" is a "charmingly alliterative line of trochaic tetrameter", suggesting that USAToday "does at least seem to employ a poet or two in its headline-writing department".

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 13, 2004 05:57 PM