Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 10:34:25 EDT
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: 'rush hour'
Subj: 'rush hour'
Why is it called 'rush hour' when it is so slow?
And when describing traffic flow, "big bottlenecks" restrict even more traffic
whereas a big bottleneck for liquids allow for more flow?
Uh-oh. Son of "words-that-are-their-own-opposites"? Actually, the latter one
makes some sense, given that it described something that is "bigly" (i.e. 'to
a great extent') a bottleneck (i.e. 'a narrow passage'); _big_ = 'major' here,
not 'large'. But there may well have been a transfer, where 'bottleneck' can
now refer to the congestion itself, not just to the 'narrow or confined space
where traffic may become congested' [OED].
As for the former, perhaps the reananalysis we're tempted to make is 'the
hours that rush by while you're stuck in a bottleneck'.