Thursday, October 27, 2011

You are Such an Idiomatic Luck-Out

I have been meaning to add my two cents to the topic of some posts about the phrasal verb "luck out" that have been making the rounds. The gist of the posts is the question of whether "lucking out" is a good thing or a bad thing.

Here is the background:
Language Log's "Lucking out"
Language Log's "More lucking out"
Superlinguo's "Lucking out"
TYWKIWDBI's "'Lucking out' can be good -- or bad."

The answer to my semantic interpretation of "luck out" can be found in my response to Superlinguo's post, which follows:

"Lucking out" was always a positive in my youth. Its use was so common in Michigan that many people turned the phrasal verb into a noun. "You got a pony for your are such a luck-out."

Upon further analysis, I thought to compare "luck out" to some other idiomatic phrasal verbs that end in "out".

Here is what I came up with:
crap out
drop out
poop out
run out
stamp out
wipe out
wash out

For some reason, I could not think of one example that carries a positive semantic interpretation.

I wonder if that could be part of the reason that some people think of lucking out as a negative.


Gary Chapin said...

In philosophy they talk about ideas "cashing out." As in, "How does William James' Pragmatism cash out?" This is a short hand for talking about what sort of real world value an idea might have. Does the idea provide an explanation for some real world phenomenon? Does it have utility? Does it add to someone's happiness? Since an idea can "cash out" negatively (it might be bad for us), it's not necessarily positive, but I think it's generally seen as positive in philosophy circles.

Laura Payne said...

Gary - That is fascinating. Thanks for sharing. I hope your ideas cash out positively.

Soutenus said...

As a teacher I hear the idiom, "act out" more often than I would like! :-)

I must not forget that wonderful 70s idiom, "freak out."
I find myself reminding myself not to freak out when I am frightened.

And, of course, the idiom made its way into late 70's pop culture and morphed into a dance move in the song Le Freak.

Minnesotastan said...

I'll bet a banker would consider "bail out" to have positive connotations.

And "opt out" would typically be a desirable choice.

Ben said...

Here is a post that really stands out.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that the positive interpretation will win out in the end.

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