I had another of my common hmmm, I wonder why… moments while writing yesterday’s post, specifically when mentioning the meaning of dead ringer. I understand that dead meant precise in that context, but I wondered why we use it with that meaning?
It’s quite common when you think about it: dead right (thanks), dead centre, dead stop, dead aim etc. But what does this have to do with death?
No-one seems to be as interested in this question as I am, because I can’t find anyone who’s written about it, but I think it’s because if there’s one thing death is, it’s certain. It comes to us all, eventually. And it’s complete and utter: once you’re dead, that’s it for every aspect of your life.
And so we took these concepts of certainty/exactitude and completeness, and used dead as an intensifying adverb or adjective to express these ideas. I think dead also became popular in this regard because it grabs your attention much more than, say, taxes right!
It’s a bit morbid if you think about it, sure, but then we’re so used to using the word in this way that we don’t really notice it, do we?
One thought on “Dead Right!”
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