1.19.2007

Word Detective

If you know me, then you know that I always want the background story. I want to know what it means, and how you know, and when did you know and a whole bunch of totally annoying questions; which has gotten me into trouble with people thinking that I am being argumentative or judgemental....really I'm not... I just want to know! More Input!

Anyway - last night my friend La Rae (yep, same one) used the phrase "out of pocket". She said "I am going to need you over on the other side of the building to help people signing in. I don't really trust anyone else to do it and I'll be out of pocket".

WHAT? What in the world does that mean? She said it means that she will be busy and won't be around....

I had always thought "out of pocket" meant paying out of your own finances. She said she had never heard that....
SOOOOOOOOOOOO I googled it and found http://www.word-detective.com/012000.html.

This is what he says about it.

"Out of pocket" is indeed usually used as a sort of shorthand for "paying out of one's own pocket that which should (and usually ultimately will) be paid by someone else." Interestingly, the original sense of "out of pocket" when it first appeared around 1693 was not so hopeful. It meant to be either "broke" or "the loser in a financial transaction."
However, around 1974 "out of pocket" also started being used to mean "out of touch" or "unavailable." No one seems to know exactly why this sense arose or what the "pocket" in this case might be. Personally, I suspect that it's a bad translation of some French phrase. In any case, this sense of "out of pocket" is not, as far as I can tell, widely used. A more common phrase meaning the same thing is "out of the loop," which first appeared around 1983 and is probably rooted in computer terminology.
But the bottom line is that they're both right.

So, there you go... mystery solved.
Next time I will tell you my story about verbiage (which is a word, but no one uses it) and verbage (which is NOT a word, but EVERYONE uses it)!

1 comment:

La Rae said...

You are quite the detective. Very good at it. I'm glad I wasn't using the word incorrectly.