Date: Thu, 14 Dec 1995 09:28:30 -0500

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: Re: Question-begging

I'm passing this along from a non-ADS colleague, who wonders whether anyone

else has noticed what she calls

'this new quasi literal use of "beg the question" to mean something like

'strongly prompt one to ask the question', as in e.g. "Your lateness begs

the question 'What kept you?'"? I think there was an occurrence of it in

The American President (which we saw (and at least I enjoyed) last

weekend), and I also heard one last night on TV.'

I haven't noticed it myself, but it strikes me as a plausible addition to add

to our stock of folk-etymologized collocations and proverbs.


I've noticed an increasing use of this over the last few years,

and we have a few citations for it. I think there was a

discussion about it on alt.usage.english a few months ago as


Some general questioning has suggested that most younger people

don't even realize what the original sense is.

Jesse Sheidlower