Date: Fri, 23 Jan 1998 15:40:38 -0500 From: Denis Anson Subject: Re: On the beam On Friday, January 23, 1998 3:23 PM, Mark Mandel [SMTP:Mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]DRAGONSYS.COM] wrote: > >>> Denis Anson writes >>> > > On Wednesday, January 21, 1998 12:35 AM, Bapopik [SMTP:Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM] wrote: > > > Perhaps "on the level" is related to "on the beam"--a seafaring term. If a > > ship's not "on the level" it's a titanic disaster. > > More properly, on the beam means directly to the right or left (port or > starboard) as opposed to off the bow or the stern. > Few sailing ships, however, were ever on the level. When under sail, the ship > would heal over to the leeward side, and > might have one rail almost in the water, with the other in the air. > > <<<<<< > > The _American Heritage Dict. of the Eng. Lang._, 3rd edn., says: > > 1. Following a radio beam. Used of aircraft. > 2. On the right track; operating correctly. > > The origin in #1 is more in accord with the general usage (#2) than the > nautical origin is. Besides, isn't that usually "on > the port beam" or "on the starboard beam"? > > BTW, isn't it also "heel over", not (for ships) "heal over"? > > -- Dr. Whom: Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, > Orthoepist, and Philological Busybody > a.k.a. Mark A. Mandel Quite right on the spelling. I'm not a good speller. The first meaning is, of course, of much later origin. Actually, that version of being "on the beam" originated in W.W.II. Arthur Clarke wrote a book, "Glide Path," about the development of radar landing systems in W.W.II which talks about being on the path, or on the beam when landing in foggy weather. Denis Anson, MS, OTR/L Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy Department College Misericordia 301 Lake Street Dallas, PA 18636 phone: 717-674-6413 fax: 717-674-8902 Author of: Alternative Computer Access: Making Appropriate Selections from FA Davis