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Posted Monday, December 3, 2007

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Brian Hurley of Australia asks, Monday, December 3, 2007, on a point of lexicography, whether people can still get "jewed"

How words lose their meaning

I AM seventy-four years old.When I was young, living in the North of England, we always used the expression " you got Jewed!" whenever somebody got short-changed or paid good money for worthless goods. I wonder is it still in use?

Brian Hurley


David IrvingDavid Irving comments:

YOU are right, that word used to exist, but under concerted pressure from certain folks the publishers of the world's leading dictionaries removed the offending verb around twenty years ago. People now get screwed, but not jewed.

That word went into the Memory Hole, as we citizens of the Internet say, and if it weren't for brisk and sparkling human memories like yours it would never have existed.

The verb, that is -- not the business practice to which it refers.

From the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1968 edition, 2,516 pages), page 1,064:

Jew, v. colloq. 1845. [f. JEW  sb. (sense 2). ] trans. To cheat or overreach.

Sense 2: transf. Applied to a grasping or extortionate usurer, or a trader who drives hard bargains or deals craftily.

Other offending words like the Jewfish and Jewfish Creek (Florida) still remain, but no doubt not for long (Chicago Tribune, May 2005: "That species is now known as the goliath grouper").

Soon there will be more words in that Memory Hole than out of it, and the world will have to rely on the human Oldies to revive its vocabulary. We expect that these people are negotiating even now with Ronald Lauder to bring out a brand of perfume named after them. Rebranding works so well nowadays. It should sell well.


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